Monday, February 29, 2016

ON THE AVENUES REPRISE: Die hard the Hunter, or the political "impossibility" of rental property registration in New Albany (2015).


Earlier this morning: Pat Harrison's Enduring Gestapo Fetish in Six (6) Easy Pieces.

My column (below) was published on March 12, 2015, just shy of one year ago. It ties up a few loose ends with regard to Harrison's Slumlord Uprising of 2008, but far more than, with the issue about to come bubbling to the surface yet again, this  morning's posts reinforce the salient point of New Albany's record of rental property registration and code enforcement since 2007:

Nine years passed, NOTHING achieved.  

You're forgiven for questioning how New Albany's political caste, comprised primarily of politicians identifying themselves as Democrats, manages the feat of sleeping at night.

But you see, vampires -- they're both dead and undead, right?

Conscience doesn't factor into it ... does it?

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ON THE AVENUES: Die Hard the Hunter, or the political "impossibility" of rental property registration in New Albany.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.


Rental Property Registration is an essential tool for creating a code enforcement system that effectively identifies problem properties and, through random inspections, deters landlords from engaging in deferred maintenance and lax property management. A strongly‐enforced rental registration program “lets the owner understand that he is known to the municipality and accountable for his actions with respect to the property.”
-- "An Analysis of Rental Property Registration in Austin"

The calendar reads 2015, and as we meander yet again down the weed-choked, trash-strewn garden path of pervasive legislative impotence in New Albany as it pertains to building codes -- an exercise sure to be made even more flaccid by the imperative to waffle and pander during an election cycle -- it’s fairly clear that this ongoing abdication of responsibility over a period of decades constitutes the single biggest failing of this city's purported "leadership" caste.

Today we turn back the clock to 2008, a full seven years ago, and a series of NAC posts referencing what surely was among the city’s most theatrical of rental property registration failure.

Read them and weep, because nothing has been achieved, and cannot be for so long as value extraction and decay management remain the dominant motifs of our ever-helpful duopoly of major political parties.

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FRIDAY, AUGUST 22, 2008
Boss Hogg and the meaning of life
Roger A. Baylor

While we may have been on opposite sides recently, at-large councilman John Gonder is intelligent, well intentioned and conscientious. Saturday morning, he’ll be convening a meeting. As explained at his blog:

The committee formed to address the issue of rental registration and code enforcement will hold its first meeting this Saturday morning, August 23, at 10:00 A.M. in the Elsa Strassweg Auditorium in the Library.

This meeting is expected to be brief. It is intended to simply outline where the committee is headed.

Those interested are welcome, and encouraged to attend.

Of course, Gonder played a prominent role in the (perhaps) concluded smoking ban saga, which turned on a “yea” swing vote by none other than Dan Coffey. The extent to which Gonder cultivated this amazing turnabout is unknown, although it’s fair to surmise that all the council’s quasi-progressives were forced to grudgingly raid their comic book collections to achieve the elimination of workplace smoking through Coffey’s surreal ballot.

The reason I muse aloud about these topics has much to do with my personal feelings about rental property registration, inspection, reform, and whatever other action is necessary to establish three simple facts.

Owning a rental property is a business.

Rental housing is a matter of public health.

Such a business is indeed the city’s business.

I made several predictions with respect to the smoking ordinance, and the majority proved correct. Last evening Coffey was overheard commenting that the council was about to establish a strong rental property registration package, and in honor of this, I’ll make another prognostication (and hope I’m wrong).

When push comes to shove, Coffey will unceremoniously kneecap any meaningful rental property reform, and while doing so, he’ll laugh at – not with – Gonder.

Like I said, I hope I’m mistaken. But color me skeptical. I see the miraculous smoking conversion as a one-off, the true price of which we’ll never know. Now we’re going to get the real Cappuccino, once again … and to the detriment of all.

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MONDAY, AUGUST 25, 2008
Steve Price on rental registration and code enforcement: "This is a bunch of (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted)."
Roger A. Baylor

Before we document the 3rd district uncouncilman’s revealingly ill-tempered sex-act-and-defecation outburst at the library on Saturday -- that's right, within whispering distance of the kiddie section -- let’s look back at a bit of pertinent information posted here last week.

Owning a rental property is more than an investment — it's a business. You have to be willing and able to commit the time and resources necessary to run your business successfully.
--GMAC Mortgage website

Did you know that to search the Internet for “rental property” + business is to generate more than 3,000,000 hits?

Yesterday, my colleague Bluegill documented the scene following Saturday’s first rental registration and code enforcement committee meeting. In the comments section, Gina Coyle asked if Price really lost it, and Jeff replied:

Yes, G, (Price) said it, apparently right after he told Lloyd Wimp that he'd do whatever he could to fight it (rental registrations).

He played most of his in-meeting comments to the landlords in the crowd, bemoaning what a tough business rental property is, which I'm sure you saw.

It's paraphrased but here's the gist:

After the meeting, an already angry Steve interrupted my conversation with another committee member.

"You're wrong. Rental property ain't a business", he said.

I told him that it is and asked what he did for a living.

He then went into a semi-intelligible tirade about how it wasn't. I asked him what he did for a living.

He told me my house (which serves as a family residence only) was a business. I asked him what he did for a living.

He hollered that he didn't want to pay any more taxes. I asked what taxes he was talking about since there hadn't been any additional taxes discussed. And then I asked him what he did for a living.

When he started to say something else unrelated, I told him to answer the question about what he did for a living.

"I'm barely breaking even", he said. "I'm living off my council salary."

"Just because your business is struggling," I said, "it doesn't mean it's not a business."

With that he turned for the door, repeated some of the stuff he'd said earlier about people wanting guys with clipboards running around, and then finally pronounced "This is all a bunch of fucking bullshit" as he headed out.

The funniest part to me is Price's unintentionally candid (and ever elastic) definition of "business": It's a business if you're making money, but not if times are hard. Price isn't making any money off his rental properties, therefore, they no longer constitute a business.

Right.

It hasn't stopped him from incorporating a business entity, has it?

I'm guessing Price's state of affairs has more to do with business expertise and the normal cycle of business than the nature of business itself, but perhaps I'm misunderstanding him. That's an easy thing to do. Listening to Price speak publicly is rather like trying to read a goat path map of Tibet -- upside down.

But those priceless expletives … well, the meaning is clear. Ironically, taken together, they also aptly describe the quality of the “work” Price has done during his tenure as councilman.

The same general attitude also helps encapsulate our eternal gratitude that council president Gahan has appointed the transparently biased Price to the rental committee. Before this, Gahan gifted the Urban Enterprise Association board with precisely the same befuddled personage (attendance record: 3 "present" and 5 "absent" so far this year).

Thanks, Jeff.

Actually, "fucking bullshit" describes Gahan's recent attitude toward the community in general just as pithily as it does Price's historically cavalier disregard for his 3rd district neighbors.

Perhaps, then, we should file this under "be careful what you wish for," because having asked for consistency, Gahan's now giving it to us.

Good and hard.

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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2008
Dude -- you guys live over in that product over there?
Roger A. Baylor

Tonight at the rental property inspection committee meeting, Mr. Haesley, the owner of Property Solutions, made these assertions.

(a) His business is located at (insert Floyds Knobs address here).

(b) All the many houses this business owns, from which the business derives income (dare we imagine … makes a profit?) by charging people a fee (that’d be “rent”) to live there, actually are not properties. They are products.

(c) Does a department store have to register each and every one of the products it sells?

I’ll leave it to Bluegill (who filmed the meeting) and others – was local media present? – to provide the in-depth coverage of the evening.

All I can say is this.

(a) Okay. I have an address, too. It isn’t a post office box, either.

(b) The beers I sell aren’t products, mind you. They’re dreams. How can we tax/register/license a dream?

(c) Pick an item in any store. Every step of the way, licensing is involved. Even if it comes from an unregulated Chinese sweat shop, the product is subject to some manner of importation licensing. What of the truck that delivered it? A licensed driver, of course. I'm sure we could follow this further. Why bother?

A product, huh?

Earlier in the session, Councilman John Gonder took a poll of the people in attendance, asking whether they were for or against a simple rental property registration program without registration fees. The vote predictably split along landlord/activist lines. Gonder did not permit stronger views to be enumerated.

Count me among the latter, though. So long as rental property owners insult my intelligence with arguments as weak as Mr. Haesley’s, then I advocate licenses for every rental unit in town.

Am I am extremist? Maybe. All I know is that my business is in fact a business, it is regulated to the hilt by multiple governmental agencies, and I accept regulation as the cost of doing business.

Business is business … right?

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See also the late, lamented Lloyd's account of a chat with Haesley, here.

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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2008
The next video should be instructional.
Jeff Gillenwater

A video feed of the second rental registration and code enforcement meeting will be posted as soon as I can get it done. The process takes hours and, seeing as how I'm trying to do the traditional media's job with a 12-year-old video camera I bought off eBay nine years ago, patience is appreciated. I think I'll leave the rig at home next time and just smoke a cigarette in the meeting room. Then you can watch it on the 11:00 news.

One needn't view the video in it's entirety, however, to grasp the essence of the situation. Amidst the embroidery of humorously bad arguments, irrelevant anecdotes, and sanitation fantasies, at least one thing is plain:

No one knows the law.

Over and over again, the questions arose: What legal obligation does the city have to notify property owners of code violations and what can legally be done if they don't respond? For that matter, what enforcement and collection options, according to the state, does the city have if they do respond? Every time, the answer was "I don't know".

Given the number of times the building commissioner has expressed exasperation with those unknowns, you'd think finding them out would be the crux of his efforts. If thinking was the hallmark of New Albany's past couple of decades, though, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

As much credit as I give John Gonder for displaying the fortitude so lacking in previous councils, there's not much sense in continuing the foray into chaos until those legal questions are answered. Otherwise, we'll be seeking to build an enforcement mechanism based on faulty remembrances rather than contemporary understanding.

And with all the superfluous talk throughout this conversation of how great things used to be, another myth is the last thing we need.

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Time passes. Pins drop, and crickets chirp. Somewhere in the night, a dog barks.

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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2008
The ordinance against "no-brainers" is subject to multiple interpretations.
Roger A. Baylor

There's good coverage of common sense in the morning newspaper, with our own Bluegill in an advisory capacity.

A code of safety: Some feel crime and code enforcement are linked in New Albany, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune)

Lax code enforcement welcomes a criminal element into New Albany, according to Jeff Gillenwater.

Gillenwater, a New Albany resident who has lobbied for tougher rules through his work with several neighborhood associations, said deteriorating houses and rentals impact more than merely property values.

“Make it look like nobody cares and potential residents will believe you, including relocating criminals,” he said.

Mayor Doug England promised to lay out his code enforcement plan to the City Council when he returns from back surgery and rehabilitation, which will likely be the first week of January.

Alas, another year has passed during which New Albany's city council has acted boldly on trivial pursuits, such as the currently unenforced (duh) ban on novelty lighters, but proposed nothing of substance to curb the city's empowerment of slumlords, a situation that derives not from ordinance, but from generations of outright political cowardice.

To be sure, there have been fact-finding meetings, and CM John Gonder waxes optimistic, telling the Tribune's Suddeath, "I am very hopeful. I have no reason to think that they will pull out a toothless tiger."

Gonder gets it, and yet toothlessness is such a part of New Albany's heritage of unresponsiveness that it surely must be written into the city's genetic code. According to our political DNA, measures to combat the unchecked reign of the slumlord are DOA. It's going to take more than words. Think: Deeds ... irrespective of the political fallout.

Uncouncilman Steve Price, who by his own testimony yearns to be regarded as a "hobbyist" rental property owner who makes nothing from it (and they call me a socialist), said it best back in August after the initial rental property registration committee meeting: "This is all a bunch of fucking bullshit."

It is, but as usual, not in the way that Price unimagines.

None of us currently know the dimension of the mayor's plan to address the reality of New Albany's default state of non-enforcement. I remain hopeful, although we are well advised to refrain from holding our breaths.

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Postscript: Doug England did nothing through the end of his term, after which Gahan (seeking re-election this year) has done nothing since the beginning of his. 

Gahan’s 2015 primary opponent, David White, has had nothing to say on the matter, while the GOP’s rental-property-owning mayoral nominee, Kevin Zurschmiede, has led the current effort to reform building codes – without a rental property registration component. 

Fear has its use but cowardice has none.
-- Mahatma Gandhi

Pat Harrison's Slumlord Uprising of 2008, 1/6: "Realtor Pat Harrison name drops 'Gestapo,' seeks monopoly on disingenuousness.


Eight years later, and it's déjà vu all over again as Pat Harrison prepares to defend our downtrodden slumlords against the Gestapo.

The following was originally published here on March 4, 2008.

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Realtor Pat Harrison name drops "Gestapo," seeks monopoly on disingenuousness.

Following is an excerpt from Wikipedia’s definition of Gestapo, an acronym for Geheime Staatspolizei, the “secret state police” in Nazi Germany. Any reader who can locate any conceivable correlation between the Gestapo as defined and a program of mandatory rental property inspections in the city of New Albany, as suggested twice last evening by local realtor Pat Harrison during blatantly disingenuous and self-serving remarks before the Building Commission, is encouraged to report these to us.

The video is here: Patience is a version.

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The role of the Gestapo was to investigate and combat “all tendencies dangerous to the state.”

It had the authority to investigate treason, espionage and sabotage cases, and cases of criminal attacks on the Nazi Party and Germany.


Laws passed in 1935 effectively gave the Gestapo carte blanche to operate without judicial oversight. Nazi jurist Dr. Werner Best stated that “[a]s long as the Gestapo ... carries out the will of the leadership, it is acting legally.” The Gestapo was specifically exempted from responsibility to administrative courts, where citizens normally could sue the state to conform to laws.

A further law passed later in the year gave the Gestapo responsibility for setting up and administering concentration camps. Also in 1935, Reinhard Heydrich became head of the Gestapo and Heinrich Müller, chief of operations; Müller would later assume overall command of the Gestapo after Heydrich's assassination in 1942 and Ernst Kaltenbrunner would take over as overall head of the RSHA and SD. Adolf Eichmann was Müller's direct subordinate and head of department IV, section B5, which dealt with Jews.

The power of the Gestapo most open to misuse was called Schutzhaft—“protective custody,” a euphemism for the power to imprison people without judicial proceedings, typically in concentration camps. The person imprisoned even had to sign his or her own Schutzhaftbefehl, an order declaring that the person had requested imprisonment (ostensibly out of fear of personal harm). Normally this signature was forced by beatings and torture.

During World War II, the Gestapo was expanded to around 46,000 members.

Pat Harrison's Slumlord Uprising of 2008, 2/6 (VIDEO): "Patience is a version."


Eight years later, and it's déjà vu all over again as Pat Harrison prepares to defend our downtrodden slumlords against the Gestapo.

The following was originally published here on March 4, 2008; text and video by Jeff Gillenwater.

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Patience is a version.

There was a council meeting last night but quite frankly, the Building Commission, who met a little earlier, had the more intriguing agenda.

Local Realtor and landlord Pat Harrison addressed the commission regarding code enforcement and rental property inspection. Deputy Mayor Carl Malysz did the same, and Commission Chair Steve LaDuke added some comments.

I won't, letting readers or, in this case, watchers make their own.




Comments at the time:

TedF said...
Thanks for being there to video Bluegill. There were some positives in the total exchange worthy of comment.

But first I would like to say now how distasteful, offensive and unprofessional it is to compare any code enforcement effort to a fascist effort to carryout genocide. Ms. Harrison made that comparison a couple times while speaking when using the term “Gestopa”. It was an extremely poor use of words and poor judgment.

New Alb Annie said...
I'm not a fan of the Harrison group's tactics. If this is a group of about 100 people, they should be directing their efforts toward the 'few bad ones' that she referred to. Why waste time meeting with the building commission if you're not doing anything wrong? Why not target the slumlords and apply some peer pressure to get them to clean up their acts?

Harrison has called my mother on several occasions--my 87-year-old mother--to get her riled up about property taxes and rental property issues. If this group has time to start a phone tree, I'd suggest they call the owners of the bad properties, and apply some pressure.

bluegill said...
"Harrison has called my mother on several occasions--my 87-year-old mother--to get her riled up about property taxes and rental property issues."

I got some of those early calls, too, about property taxes. I suppose it was from attending the tax "forum" at the Grand that was so falsely advertised.

It does help explain, though, why one of Harrison's group, when first arriving, leaned over to her and asked why he was supposed to be there.

Highwayman said...
Unfortunately I was unable to attend this meeting last night as my Jeep decided to turn engine parts into shrapnel on the way there.

As one of the more vocal proponents of this particular issue, I regret that I missed this opportunity.

However, had I been present my response to Ms. Harrison, the group she represents,as well as the city's representatives would have been as follows.

"All that was proposed sounded like the beginnings of a solution to the problem. Now let's see some action!!"

We as taxpaying property owners would much prefer that the rental industry in our city police itself.

Likewise, we'd like to see New Albany's government actually govern in the area of code enforcement as well as many other areas.

Having said that, let me assure all parties that platitudes alone will not suffice as success.

You have some time to bring in some results, but the clock is running!!

***NOTE*** To the editorial staff of NAC...feel free to extend this comment further if you see the need.

Greg said...
I find her remarks to be offensive and self-centered. If she really cared about cleaning up rental properties then she would have stepped up to the podium a long time ago. Also, if she thinks the "Clean Up New Albany" signs very negative, there were plenty of venues (a website, neighborhood meetings, letters to the editor, etc..) to provide feedback.

There has been plenty of opportunities for her to work with neighborhood groups to better our neighborhoods in New Albany, but not until her slums or purse strings are threatened she steps up as this caring perosn! I agree with Highwayman, it is time to see action.

I personally invite Ms. Harrison to our next neighborhood clean up. Also, I will be asking the ESNA president to invite Ms. Harrison and her group to one of our neighborhood meetings to speak with property owners and to layout her plans how she is willing to work with us to Clean Up New Albany. I am sick of the slumlords that Ms. Harrison has sold New Albany to and the ones that she represent.

Greg said...
Highwayman,
This is a issue that is on the top of my list this year and has been for several years! Let me know what I can do and how I can help.

Highwayman said...
Greg,

My suggestion for all of us is that we stay "persistent" and "consistent".

Attend every City Council, Building Commission, BZA, Zoning and Planning meeting you possibly can.

Mention it every time you see an elected or appointed city official or councilmen.

Stay involved in your neighborhood groups and above all stay informed & keep those around you informed.

The more we know about upcoming events or proposed actions, the better chance we have of either supporting or combating them.

New Alb Annie said...
What I find most irritating about the whole issue of code enforcement, especially regarding rental properties, is the incredible waste of time it is for everyone who just expects ordinances to be enforced, or whose job it is to enforce them.

I don't have time to waste, especially when it's the result of people simply not wanting to follow the rules. I don't think there are any of us posting here who have the luxury of time to waste on a slumlord's bad habits and poor business practices.

For example, the Harrison group showing up at this meeting. Why waste everyone's time? If you own property and you have violations, repair them--bring them into compliance. Seems it would be far less stressful and expensive, in terms of the time spent trying to delay the inevitable matter of codes being enforced, to just fix the problems. I can tell you this, if I owned a slum in one of the mentioned 'targeted areas' for concentrated enforcement, I wouldn't be lollygagging around in meetings--I'd be fixing my situation.

If you are an honest business person running a legitimate business, you'd be insistent upon following the rules for your business. I am very suspect of a group who is actively attempting to delay code enforcement and inspections.

The New Albanian said...
Just for the record, I've e-mailed Pat Harrison several times to offer time in this blog to present her case, or to respond to things that I've written here.

Total responses: Nada.

Iamhoosier said...
NA,
Have tried corresponding with her in German?(grin)

MommyKnowsBest said...
When was this meeting?

Who are the people with Pat Harrison that are n/k/a the "Harrison Group"? Has she ever come to your house (if you were a for sale by owner) to try and list your house? If so, can you say what happened with that?

Pat Harrison's Slumlord Uprising of 2008, 3/6: "Wrong tree, wrong dogs barking."


Eight years later, and it's déjà vu all over again as Pat Harrison prepares to defend our downtrodden slumlords against the Gestapo.

The following was originally published here on Repeat from February 19, 2008. Text by Jeff Gillenwater.

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Wrong tree, wrong dogs barking




As the chart above from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance shows, 74.2% of the total county property tax levy is paid by residential property owners. While the implied argument for economic development as a method of property tax relief is strong as the development of additional businesses would reduce the portion of taxes collected from residential property, one factor that's not so obvious is the built-in landlord subsidy.

According to the 2000 census, there are 29,087 residential units in Floyd County at about 95% occupancy. Those units include single-family homes, trailers, apartments, and any other arrangement of separate living space. Only 68.6% (19,954) of them are owner-occupied, however. That leaves 7,557 of them as rental units. 26% of all housing units in the county are owned by someone other than their residents and are operated as rental businesses.

Why does this matter? Because the current property tax proposal being mulled over by our state legislature seeks to tax rental businesses at a different rate than other businesses. Owner-occupied residential property tax caps would be set at 1%, rentals at 2%, and other businesses at 3%.

It's difficult to exactly calculate how 7,557 rental units are divided up between various properties. One property could be comprised of 30 units while another could be a detached, single-family rental, i.e., one unit. For comparison's sake, let's assume a typical New Albany rental property of four units. 7,557 total rental units with four units per property is equal to 1,889 properties.

With that figure in hand, take into account the median county property value of $104,300. 1,889 properties multiplied by the median value equals $197,022,700 worth of taxable property.

That property, taxed at an as yet unjustified special rate of 2% would lead to $3,940,454 in revenue. If taxed at the same 3% rate as other businesses, however, the revenue would be $5,910,681. That's a difference of $1,970,227- a difference that would be made up by homeowners every year.

How would that affect individual households? Remember, as of the 2000 census, there were 19,954 owner-occupied homes in Floyd County. $1,970,227 divided among 19,954 homes equals $98.74 per homeowner each year. It may not seem like much on its surface, but those interested in fairness should take note. With the owner-occupied residential property tax rate set at 1% and the median home value at $104,300, the typical property tax bill will be $1,043. That means that if our "number of units per property" assumption is anywhere near correct, roughly 10% of every "average homeowner" property tax payment would be going to subsidize area landlords who refuse, via special interest lobbying efforts, to fairly pay the same tax rate as other businesses.

We've already been collectively subsidizing the rental property business for years by allowing owners to pay residential tax rates on their business property and have often been paid back with an alarming lack of property maintenance and the accompanying attraction of the criminal element into our communities. The newest take on property taxes further codifies that subsidy without requiring any additional responsibility from landlords in return for it.

At the very least, the Jim Bakers and Pat Harrisons of the area should be held publicly accountable for such a boondoggle, as should those public officials who would vote in favor of it.

Pat Harrison's Slumlord Uprising of 2008, 4/6: "Code enforcement and rental registrations back in the news."


Eight years later, and it's déjà vu all over again as Pat Harrison prepares to defend our downtrodden slumlords against the Gestapo.

The following was originally published here on February 7, 2008.

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Code enforcement and rental registrations back in the news.

Get, 'em, Lloyd.

Lloyd Wimp keeps his New Albany property maintained; he wants rental property owners to do the same, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune).

(Lloyd) Wimp is leading a movement with like-minded property owners who want better enforcement of codes in New Albany. His current focus is rental property owners that live out of the city and do not keep their lots up to par.

Wimp spoke to the Building Commission on Monday about the problem.

“One of the big issues that I understand is they (code enforcement officials) are having trouble finding who owns the property, and when they find out who owns the property, finding out where they are at,” Wimp said.

After researching cities around Indiana, Wimp has come to the conclusion that requiring rental property owners to register with the local government would help solve some of the problems.


Better hurry down to the courthouse. I hear Pat Harrison's planning a public immolation.

Wouldn't want to miss it ...

Pat Harrison's Slumlord Uprising of 2008, 5/6: "More on the 'American Dream' of rental property exploitation."


Eight years later, and it's déjà vu all over again as Pat Harrison prepares to defend our downtrodden slumlords against the Gestapo.

The following was originally published here on August 28, 2007.

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More on the “American Dream” of rental property exploitation.

It’s a mellow morning accented by espresso, kippers and a multi-disc listening of the “Complete Stax/Volt Singles, 1959-1968,” and I’m hesitant to dive back into the rancor sure to be engendered by the topic of tax relief for rental property owners.

However, to judge by curent readership, I'm on a roll, so what the hell.

Yesterday in a private e-mail, a longtime NAC reader expressed annoyance with the apparent emergence of yet another campaign to improve the desperate plight of starving rental property owners, whose dented and soiled tin cups are expected to become a recurring feature of local editorial pages:

This is a joke!


Indiana landlords to make plea for tax relief (Courier-Journal).

I think this needs a spot on your blog, and there should be a group called, “Citizens against the Slumlords.” Everyone needs to call Indianapolis and request that their representatives vote NO on tax breaks to slumlords until they bring their properties up to code. These are businesses and should be taxed as such! These are problems and eyesores that I’m very passionate about

After reading this note, I composed an e-mail to Pat Harrison:

Greetings,

I'm the senior editor of the
NA Confidential blog, and we share your concern with certain problems associated with rental property in New Albany and Floyd County, although our emphasis as long suffering residents -- i.e., single family homeowners – in New Albany's long neglected historic core centers on the absence of applicable code enforcement and the proliferation of "slumlords."

Having viewed your recent advocacy on behalf of rental property ownership, and likewise perusing statistics suggesting that a high rate of rentals runs hand in hand with overall societal decay, we'd like to ask you a couple of questions.

Now many rental units do you currently own?

Do you hold mortgages on these?

Do you support the enforcement of applicable codes for all citizens?

Thanks for helping us understand your side of this question. Rest assured that we will continue to publicly advocate meaningful codes and rental property inspections as a means of alleviating the problems that have been experienced with irresponsible rental property management, irrespective of the tax burden -- which is but one side of the coin.

Twenty-four hours later, we’ve not received a response, but the situation is being monitored.

Alms, anyone?

Pat Harrison's Slumlord Uprising of 2008, 6/6: "Endangered Slumlord Protection Act? Local rental property mogul and realtor cites a 'pitiful' absence of tax breaks."


Eight years later, and it's déjà vu all over again as Pat Harrison prepares to defend our downtrodden slumlords against the Gestapo.

The following was originally published here on August 22, 2007.

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Endangered Slumlord Protection Act? Local rental property mogul and realtor cites a “pitiful” absence of tax breaks.

Back on August 12, the Tribune’s Chris Morris heeded the squeaky realtor’s wheel and considered the outer limits of the “American dream” (unlimited-horizon-free, New Albany-style):

Rental property owners in Clark, Floyd counties say enough is enough.

The idea sounds like a winner. You buy property, fix it up, find someone to rent it, and then sit back and collect the monthly check.

However, it’s not quite that simple, according to local Realtor Pat Harrison. In fact, she said what used to be the American dream of owning property has turned into a nightmare for many. The reason, she said, is property owners are being taxed to death.

“This state is not giving any kind of tax break on commercial and investment property. It’s pitiful,” Harrison said.


Chris didn't intend to be insightful, but his line, "sit back and collect the monthly check," is a classic.

Why do we get the sneaking suspicion that the next grinding trench warfare phase of trying to bring New Albany’s enduring “slumlord protection program” into line with the dictates of the 21st century will inevitably revolve around fanatical opposition (vigilance with Bics in hand, just itching to flick) to absolutely necessary rental inspection reform, on the spurious grounds that extreme poverty caused by Harrison’s “pitiful” absence of tax breaks should absolve owners of adhering to community standards?

We can hear the tune already, and it is discordant -- and dysfunctional -- as ever.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

In which we catch Jeff Gahan in a flagrant, bald-faced lie about city streets, bridge tolls, and his city's non-readiness.


Yesterday we learned from the Courier-Journal's Lexy Gross (our newspaper was off at cooking school) that in spite of winks, nods, secret handshakes and Paddy Mac-brand decoder rings, Mayor Jeff Gahan persists in thinking that one-way traffic on Spring and Elm makes sense.

C-J report: Spiting Speck, Jeff Gahan still thinks that one-way traffic on Spring and Elm might be good for the city.


It's gotten so bad that even 3rd councilman Greg Phipps has noticed and is "very disturbed."


Once again, here's the damning passage, written by Gross:

... John Rosenbarger, New Albany public works projects supervisor, said Terra Haute, Ind., firm HWC Engineering is currently examining the city's options and how much it could cost to implement changes. Gahan said 80 percent of the project would be funded through the state and federal departments of transportation.

HWC has given the city two options: Spring Street and Elm Street would stay one-way from the interstate to Vincennes Street, or all of the downtown grid streets – from Oak to Main – would convert to two-way.

Gahan and Rosenbarger said they expect the analysis to take at least a few more months, then the city will release plans and costs for public discussion.

A few more months?

Let's take a closer look at what this means. Since Speck's study finally landed, NAC has been scanning those shards of information leaking out from City Hall's circled wagons.

Among other items stored under lock and key in Warren Nash's GI Joe foot locker, we've been looking for evidence of a timetable for two-way implementation, based not on what we seek as advocates, but on the city's publicly stated aim of linking street grid reform with impending bridge tolls, and ensuing traffic dislocations as drivers use New Albany as a cut-through to the untolled Sherman Minton Bridge.

Yes: Gahan's publicly stated aim.

The following passage appeared in Business First on January 7, 2015 -- 14 months before Gross's article yesterday.

The city of New Albany commissioned the (Speck) study after realizing that more motorists could be driven to cross the Sherman Minton Bridge after tolls are instituted as part of the Ohio River Bridges Project. New Albany is the first exit off the Sherman Minton, which will not be tolled.

"There is no question that the 'no-toll' situation is going to have an impact," New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan told Business First Tuesday after the YES! Fest kick-off event. "The city of New Albany is going to be ready."

Let's return to yesterday's C-J article.

Gahan said he doesn't expect the project to be complete until after the bridges start tolling.

Looks like Gahan lied.

Plain as day.

Maybe that's why they don't allow him to attend city council meetings.

---

RQAW, HWC Engineering, municipal cowardice, Jeff Speck, and reading the tea leaves through dry heaves.


Unelected Bored of Works gets started gutting Speck as mayor endorses PAC checks from afar.

Rental property ordinance: "Very Important City Council Meeting (March 7th)."

Paging leading citizen Bill Allen.

My position in favor of rental registration and inspection is well documented. I needn't make the case all over again. Concurrently, transparency in local governance is very important, too, along with what might be referred to as precision: exactly what is being said, and who is saying it?

The pursuit of transparency and precision involves learning the answers to questions. For instance, during the last council meeting of 2015, when a lengthy rental property ordinance appeared out of nowhere, I asked:


  • Why now, when a reformatted council was about to be seated?
  • From whom: City Hall or the ordinance's council sponsor, Greg Phipps?
  • Was it a trial balloon? If so, for what purpose?


The room was filed with rental property owners, and the look of fear on the faces of council members was palpable. The ordinance was sent to committee, and Phipps publicly washed his hands of it, vowing to be finished with the idea.

At the following meeting, Phipps announced that he was delighted to guide the rental property ordinance through committee and bring it back to council for consideration at a later date.


  • What happened to change his mind?
  • From whom: Phipps or City Hall?
  • If Phipps, who are his council allies?
  • If City Hall, why not step forward and take possession of the issue?


Yesterday the following e-mail arrived from Greg Roberts, who is the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association. However, the e-mail does not mention the ESNA.


  • Is the note written on behalf of the ESNA?
  • What exactly is expected of those rallying in favor of the ordinance?
  • Is it about slumlords, tenants or both?


A little more information, please. Can Roberts (or Phipps) answer any of the above questions?

As for the likelihood that Pat Harrison will begin shrieking about the Gestapo, leave that one for me. I'll sign up last on the speaker's sheet, and shred her.

Very Important City Council Meeting (Rental Inspection Program)

This one of the most important issues facing our neighborhood!

I need to have everyone show up at this meeting!

March 7th @ 7:00 pm (3rd floor of the City County Building)

The slumlords/landlords will be there in force to speak against this program. so we need to be there in force as home owners to be speak for this program and to protect our investments!

LET SHOW THAT WE ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE THESE SLUM PROPERTIES ANYMORE!!!

Greg

154 days since we had a News and Tribune reporter in New Albany, but look: Cooking School! In Jeffersonville!




The web site has lots of information about how to buy things.

How do I buy tickets to a Taste of Home Cooking School show?

Each Taste of Home Cooking School show is locally managed by a media partner. Click HERE to be directed to our “Find a Show” page on the Taste of Home website, where our local media partners provide instructions on how to purchase tickets.

And: it's at a church.

I wonder when we'll have a reporter again? You know, that news thing.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

C-J report: Spiting Speck, Jeff Gahan still thinks that one-way traffic on Spring and Elm might be good for the city.


"If New Albany courageously changes its streets from one-way to two-way, it will pay for itself with higher home values and better downtown business."
-- John Gilderbloom

Mayor Jeff Gahan tells the C-J's Lexy Gross that it has taken him a very long time to believe his own two eyes ... and yet, after the street grid facts produced by Jeff Speck and John Gilderbloom (among others) are stacked higher than the Elsby Building, he still cannot embrace them publicly.

If any portion of Gahan's wavering "position" strikes you as pro-active in a sense of recognizable "leadership," then please do us the pleasure of explaining exactly how.

 ... The mayor and city officials are on board for the conversion of some streets, but they're waiting to see how much it would cost the City of New Albany before proceeding.

John Rosenbarger, New Albany public works projects supervisor, said Terra Haute, Ind., firm HWC Engineering is currently examining the city's options and how much it could cost to implement changes. Gahan said 80 percent of the project would be funded through the state and federal departments of transportation.

HWC has given the city two options: Spring Street and Elm Street would stay one-way from the interstate to Vincennes Street, or all of the downtown grid streets – from Oak to Main – would convert to two-way.

Gahan and Rosenbarger said they expect the analysis to take at least a few more months, then the city will release plans and costs for public discussion.

Gahan said he doesn't expect the project to be complete until after the bridges start tolling.

$20 million for parks, and the same old nickels and dimes for essential infrastructure. But at least we know that whatever private assurances continue to be made by City Hall to gullible elected officials, our city still believes one-way traffic on Spring and Elm might be conducive -- and they're going to let us be pounded by pass-through tolling evasion before doing anything at all.

Which means in turn: They're being willfully blind.

Greg Phipps owes us an explanation, doesn't he? Don't hold your breath waiting for it. Here is the link: Will New Albany get 2-way streets before tolls?

And if you will have observed anything, you will have observed that Major Frank Burns is an idiot.



The movie M*A*S*H was released in 1970, and after 46 years (and the lengthy run of the subsequent television series), it's a cultural earthquake we all tend to take for granted. But is is seismic nonetheless.

From Roger Ebert's original review:

We laugh, not because "MASH" is Sgt. Bilko for adults, but because it is so true to the unadmitted sadist in all of us. There is perhaps nothing so exquisite as achieving (as the country song has it) sweet mental revenge against someone we hate with particular dedication. And it is the flat-out, poker-faced hatred in "MASH" that makes it work. Most comedies want us to laugh at things that aren't really funny; in this one we laugh precisely because they're not funny. We laugh, that we may not cry.

We watched it again last night, and if you have not seen this movie in a while, consider returning to it.


"Former New Albany café owner faces attempted murder charge."

The feeding frenzy of the amateur media revolution -- is it a necessary evil?

Search for the words "Laura Buckingham Afghanistan Marines," and Google disgorges dozens of headlines with banners like these: "Marine Who Peed on Dead Taliban Foils Girlfriend’s Alleged Murder-for-Hire Plot" and "Former Marine court-martialed for peeing on Taliban bodies stops girlfriend's alleged murder-for-hire plot WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT."

It's a perfect storm for the planet's social media vultures: A notorious former soldier prevents his girlfriend, also a former soldier, from killing her child's father. It is likely that Robo-Screenplay already is at work, scrubbing the story clean of any genuine human element.

Laura Buckingham became known to many residents of Southern Indiana as the "bread chick," selling her loaves at the farmers market prior to opening a bricks and mortar cafe called Bread and Breakfast. Overnight, she has become fodder for worldwide "news" coverage.

Former New Albany café owner faces attempted murder charge, by Chris Morris (News and Tribune)

We're all adults here, and few (if any) of us have a dog in this race. We don't know all the facts, and the case will play itself out in the judicial system. We shouldn't understate the seriousness, and yet personally, I always pull for redemption and second chances, and wish success to those seeking to purge resident demons. There is a young boy involved, and I'm sure you'll join me in wishing the best for him.

It may interest some readers to know there is a Facebook page called Support Laura Buckingham: "This page is to provide information on ways to help Laura Buckingham as relates to her current legal situation."

I'm not interested in choosing sides, because this story strikes me as an instance of tragedy -- in the word's original sense.

1. (esp in classical and Renaissance drama) a play in which the protagonist, usually a man of importance and outstanding personal qualities, falls to disaster through the combination of a personal failing and circumstances with which he cannot deal.

2. (in later drama, such as that of Ibsen) a play in which the protagonist is overcome by a combination of social and psychological circumstances.

It isn't clear what a "good" ending might be, but it's the one I'm hoping for.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Gather the plastic bags, mama -- Ron Grooms is doing that pro-life thang.


Ron Grooms is so busy speaking out on pro-life legislation that he hasn't bothered reading a newspaper.

2 Abortion Foes Behind Planned Parenthood Videos Are Indicted, by Manny Fernandez (NYT)

Abortion opponents claimed that the videos, which were released starting in July, revealed that Planned Parenthood was engaged in the illegal sale of body parts — a charge that the organization has denied and that has not been supported in numerous congressional and state investigations triggered by the release of the videos.

Can't he just go back to suppressing local environmental initiatives and seeing to it that One Southern Indiana's oligarchs get their full complement of subsidies, tax breaks and brothel gift cards?

Ron Grooms is speaking out on pro-life legislation.

Like millions of Americans, I was appalled last year to watch videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing how the organs of aborted children were preserved and sold to medical researchers.

More recently, a medical waste facility in Indianapolis was fined $11,250 for receiving aborted fetuses from a Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic.

This session, legislation is being considered to address this issue. It would put a stop to the trafficking of aborted baby remains in Indiana, ensuring that such remains are treated with dignity and respect.

House Bill 1337 would make it a Level 5 felony for an individual to acquire, receive, sell or transfer fetal tissue. It would also prohibit abortions based solely on race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex or a non-lethal disability. An abortion performed solely on the basis of these factors suggests that certain lives have less value than others, or that life is not worth living for certain categories of people. This is not consistent with Hoosier values.

HB 1337 was approved in a Senate committee on Wednesday and is expected to be considered by the full Senate next week.

So many boards, districts, parties and agencies ... so few wax museums.



Yesterday it was reported on Fb -- by Adam Dickey -- that Adam Dickey, already New Albany's most prolific political operative since the city's population was comprised of 100% immigrant Scribners, now is serving on yet another board, or body, or panel of something-or-another, charged with influencing the way we live for decades to come.


That's fine. We've disagreed on occasion, but let's join in the congratulations. After all, Jeff Gahan made it all possible ... and it all flows from him.


It also would be helpful if at some point, Adam and these various other people involved with their perpetual crusade to run everything might actually explain, publicly and for attribution, exactly what it is they stand for, apart from perpetually maintaining the political fix already firmly in.

Since I couldn't find a suitable photo of the Politburo massed atop Lenin's Mausoleum for use as accent, let's cut directly to the chase, and examine how the Soviet Union's founder came to be embalmed.

World's Most Famous Corpse, Alex Santoso (Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Treasury, via Neatorama)

More people have seen Lenin's mummy than any other mummy in history. It's a tourist attraction, a cultural artifact, and as you'll see, a political gimmick. How did this weird monument - denounced by Lenin's official historian as an "absurd idea" - come into being? Here's the full story.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

NA: It's where YOU should be ... without any shade, so best head to the water park..


Elsewhere in Come Lumberjack City, THIS is the water park -- a pop-up water park, seeing as concepts like this are really hip at the moment.


Read about yet another stormwater flooding episode at WHAS (photo credit, too), know that we'll blame it on the state, and scratch your head.

Hmm, lots of asphalt, shrinking green space and trees falling left and right ... wonder if ... nah -- what possible connection could there be?

Let's ask the mayor:


Oops. Looks like he's busy planning events.

We'll come back later.

By canoe.

ON THE AVENUES: Gravity Head again, because times change, and possessive pronouns change with them.

ON THE AVENUES: Gravity Head again, because times change, and possessive pronouns change with them.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Back in February of 2014, On the Avenues was devoted to previewing a much-loved local institution, and it is my aim to partially revisit these words today, with an altered addendum. Diligent readers may notice a slight but palpable change of perspective in this updated version. As Kurt Vonnegut might have observed: "And so it goes."

---

When Gravity Head comes calling, familiar space and time continuums can be briefly altered. Normal routines are rendered Byzantine by comparison. Life’s infinite horizons narrow, and one reverts to existence by the hour, minute by minute.

Passing through the looking glass is boring by comparison.

I’m not speaking of the fest’s actual commencement, because once the opening bell sounds on Friday morning, there is a collective observance of Sidney Freedman’s dictum from television’s M*A*S*H: “Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice - pull down your pants and slide on the ice.”

No, it’s the preparation for Gravity Head that saps working days and requires so much attention to detail during the run-up to the bacchanalia.

It might be done differently, but when it comes to what has unexpectedly become a tradition, the array of minor points adds up to a greater sum. It’s just a beer fest, and yet it’s more, and different from the rest.

From the very start, when it was decided to have a second Gravity Head, no one had any idea what the “proper” way of running a beer festival was supposed to represent. Conventional wisdom eluded the original organizer, for which many among us remain grateful.

The aim was, and remains, to provide regular customers and locally-based friends with as many opportunities as possible to taste a few special beers over a period of time.

That’s the sum of it.

The beers never have been served all at once. They unfold in waves over a period of weeks. There are no flights, because flights imply a “right” to taste them all. Rather, the desired end is for folks to taste a few, and then return another time and taste a few more. Not too many at once, because they’re strong.

Of course, Gravity Head’s opening day has become somewhat of a scrum, and a singular tradition all its own. Folks seem content with the interior logic occurring at the beginning, but this isn’t what every celebrant looks forward to experiencing each year.

Rather, there’ll inevitably be a quiet Tuesday night on the second or third week, with a handful of friends, and leisurely, contemplative sipping of one or two quality libations, spiced with conversation. These are the precious moments that lead to feelings of timelessness.

And timelessness is why beer still matters, among numerous other reasons I'll always cherish.

---

And so the 18th edition of Gravity Head begins on Friday at 7:00 a.m. at NABC’s Pizzeria & Public House. The brewery partner for the opening day tap takeover in 2016 is Stone Brewing Company. Stone’s regional sales representative Mark Kocher, a friend and confidant, offers a tout.

This is going to be an exciting time with some pretty fun stuff. Stone Brewing will be in full effect with treats sent from California especially for Gravity Head. Do not miss!

Mark's a keeper, and I’ve always had a sizeable soft spot in my teeny-weeny, Grinch-sized heart for Stone, especially its co-founder and CEO, Greg Koch, who visited the Pizzeria & Public House in 2007 while touring the Midwest. Currently Stone is constructing a brewery in Berlin, Germany, and doing it the American way; for once, that’s a compliment. It’s the first such project in Europe.

Only recently, Koch had this to say about Stone’s commitment to independence. I couldn’t agree more.

… The industrial giants that worked for decades to marginalize our segment have found their tactics ineffective. So, Big Beer decided it’s time for an age-old strategy: Purchase. Control. Obfuscate …

… In purchasing small, “local” brands, Big Beer is able to capitalize on the purchased brand’s reputation, while many consumers are too distracted to pay attention or care.

Truth is, we live in a complex world. As consumers, it’s exhausting to know which brands are truly independent, authentic; did or didn’t sell out. When a craft brewer sells out to Big Beer, not only are they handing over control of their company’s future (irrespective of the requisite “We’re Not Changing Anything” press release), their brand is transformed overnight from being a positive force for growing the craft segment into a tool fighting against the brewers who choose to remain solely dedicated to the craft category.

… We are standing strong, knowing our team members and fans care passionately about Stone Brewing’s philosophy and values. Celebrating an artisanal, natural approach to beer and food, philanthropy, sustainability, reinvesting in our company, community, industry and future … all while holding true to the craft beer ethos.

The ideologies that Steve (Wagner) and I have been able to incorporate into Stone Brewing are of incalculable value to us, and selling our company to Big Beer is not in our future. No matter the size of the check. Period.

As for Gravity Head itself, I have every reason to believe it will proceed in 2016 according to its normal trajectory, largely as it always has. The festival template has been developed over a period of 17 years, and it is staff's second nature by now.

Still, I’d be lying if I were to deny feeling somewhat strange at being completely uninvolved with Gravity Head for the first time since 1999 – not bad or depressed, just a wee bit odd.

For so many years, I’d do the ordering and stashing; write, rewrite and publish the program; disseminate the propaganda; rig tap handles; produce signage; and count glassware … and by the time all of it was ready, it felt like I knew each one of those kegs personally.

Farmers must feel that way when they take their piggies to market.

Of course, over the years I’ve gradually ceded most of these tasks to others, except for the program and propaganda (for the last time in 2015), and this is why Gravity Head will proceed in 2016 without a hitch. If only in this one instance, the succession was intelligently arranged.

After 17 years, gravity remains the law, and it’s a hard habit to break, but break it I fully intend to do. Once upon a time it was my idea, and now it’s no longer about me, assuming it ever really was. Gravity’s bigger than you and me, anyway.

Now, please go forth and propagate daddy’s pension fund – and while you’re at it, have one for me. Happy Gravity Head!

Opening lineup here

---

February 18: ON THE AVENUES: Mourning in America, circa 1984.

February 11: ON THE AVENUES: James Fallows, New Albany, and the primacy of bricks over string music.

February 8: ON THE AVENUES EXTRA: "No, John Rosenbarger, congestion is our friend. Help us achieve it, or get out of the way."

February 4: ON THE AVENUES: Hello, I must be going.

Two decades and three documentaries about Philip Roth.

The writer at 60: BBC Arena's Philip Roth (1993).





Philip Roth at 70: Interview with David Rennick (2003).





Finally, at 80: American Masters ... Philip Roth: Unmasked (2013).





Embarrassingly, I've read only one of Roth's novels: The Human Stain. It's time to rectify this imbalance.



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Jeffersonville City Council pulls Smokin' on the River funding -- is a move to NA imminent?


According to the Facebook page of the Smokin' on the River State BBQ Competition ...

At this time due to budget cuts with the City of Jeffersonville Indiana, there will not be Smokin' On The River 2016. This saddens us tremendously since it was an excellent 7 year run filled with hard work, new BBQ family and lots of fun!

The Green Mouse noticed this comment elsewhere on social media:

We are in the process with talking to a New Albany representative to see if it is possible to move it to New Albany this year.

This one bears watching. Another fine opportunity to close city streets, eh Jeff?

The NA-FC school corporation's latest bond referendum debuts ... but if Trump wins, aren't we all moving to Canada anyway?

Here's the video.


Here's the newspaper's coverage. At least the school corporation finally realized that so much as mentioning the superintendent's name is the kiss of death to effective PR.

New Albany-Floyd County Schools announces new referendum; New project comes in at $87 million, by Jerod Clapp (Occasionally New Albany)

NEW ALBANY — Going bigger than last time around, the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. formally announced its plan for a referendum on the November ballot.

On Wednesday, the district put a video on social media detailing the new proposal. This time, the project adds $7 million to the price tag, putting it at about $87 million. Brad Snyder, deputy superintendent, said part of the reason is to make the issue of property tax change easier to understand.

Here are a few NAC posts from our last go-around in the the spring of 2015.

NA-FC referendum: "A driving oriented, suburban school model."


News release: "Greenville Concerned Citizens, Inc. (has) voted to oppose the upcoming $80 million school bond referendum."


On the school bond referendum.


NA-FC schools referendum is defeated.


Jeffie bar the door: Redevelopment don't need no stinking TIF input from schools.


Superintendent Hibbard: "I think we need professional help."


Earth to (Hibbard): One significant reason the referendum lost is that many voters understood the question quite well, but are terminally mistrustful of current management to implement the proposed bond. Sorry, but that's as simple as it gets. You mean to tell me no one mentioned this possibility during the (planning) retreat?

"Newspaper poll results indicate "slight" trend against Hibbard pay raise." (2012)

Service amenities: "The Real Source of America's Urban Revival"?



But they'd still have to drive to the water slide.

The Real Source of America's Urban Revival, by Eric Jaffe (City Lab)

Millennials, housing costs, and shorter commutes are the usual explanations. But a careful new study points to another reason young college grads returned downtown in the 2000s.

 ... New living habits of Millennials and Baby Boomers, delays in starting a family, a tougher home-buying market, a hatred of long commutes—those social factors have all altered cities in recent years. But Couture and Handbury pin the return of downtown on a new fondness for service amenities: music venues, theaters, bars, gyms, and the like. Not the growth of these things but a fresh taste for living near them, a broad cultural shift that could make urban revival more durable.

“If this revival comes from a change in preference, then it could be a long-lasting phenomenon,” says Couture. “We have ruled out various explanations based on temporary trends.”

Long range outlook: Biers on Parade approved for Oct. 1 at the Farmers Market (City Square).


BOW approved it, so mark your calendars for October 1.

The New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association's second annual pop-up at the Farmers Market (now called City Square) will begin after the market ends, and is intended to coincide with the Harvest Homecoming Parade. It also will serve as a "parade after party" of sorts, for all ages, with food, drink and music.

Last year's inaugural took place on a cold and blustery day; maybe we'll get better weather this year. Thanks to Matt McMahan for representing NARBA at yesterday's meeting.  

Chris Morris' story.

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: From ignis fatuus to fatuous and back again.

Welcome to another installment of SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS, a regular Wednesday feature at NA Confidential.

But why new words? Why not the old, familiar, comforting words?

It's because a healthy vocabulary isn't about trying to show you're smarter than the rest of them. To the contrary, it's about selecting the right word and using it correctly, whatever one's pay grade or station in life.

Even municipal corporate attorneys are eligible for this enlightening expansion of personal horizons, and really, for those of us fascinated by the mayor's determination to rechannel his inner Walt Disney, all we have is time on our hands -- moments enough for us to learn something.

This week, we consider two manifestations of the same Latin word, fatuus.

ignis fatuus
[ig-nis fach-oo-uh s]

noun, plural ignes fatui [ig-neez fach-oo-ahy] 

1. Also called friar's lantern, will-o'-the-wisp. a flitting phosphorescent light seen at night, chiefly over marshy ground, and believed to be due to spontaneous combustion of gas from decomposed organic matter.

2. something deluding or misleading.

Origin of ignis fatuus 

1555-1565 < Medieval Latin: literally, foolish fire

Historical Examples

It must surely have been a light in the hut of a forester, for it shone too steadily to be the glimmer of an ignis fatuus.
-- Guy Mannering, or The Astrologer, Complete, Illustrated ... Sir Walter Scott

A light which illuminates centuries must be more than an ignis fatuus.
-- Ten Great Religions ... James Freeman Clarke

In the second sense, we've used it here before:

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


A more commonly seen word in English is the adjective fatuous, also from the Latin fatuus (silly, foolish, idiotic).

1. foolish or inane, especially in an unconscious, complacent manner; silly.
2. unreal; illusory.

The fun doesn't stop there. Fatuous becomes fatuously as an adverb and fatuousness as a noun.

Duggins exemplified fatuousness with the remark, "I think we did an excellent job removing snow."

Isn't knowledge fun?