Saturday, March 19, 2016

Commentary: Amid quintessential City Hall arrogance, a petition to "save the Cannon Acres Native American site."

Anthony Nava has started a petition at

Petitioning State Representative Edward Clere (to) Save the Cannon Acres Native American site

Cannon Acres contains a 3,000 year old to present-day archaeological site. This is at risk due to the city wanting to build a dog park. If this happens we may lose this site forever. This site has been used by the Mississippian people to the woodland people of the Shawnee as well as a rich history that is local to New Albany.

At Fb, Nava was asked a relevant question.

Is there no state or federal law preventing this? I thought this kind of thing had to be thoroughly researched and approved if it involved a Native site.

His answer:

When it comes to Native rights we are second hand citizens. The NHPA is supposed to protect sacred sites but since the city is self-funded it's a loophole in the law, that they operate by the skin of their teeth. But if Federal monies are or were used to develop the site they would have to answer to sect 106 of the NHPA act.

The issue of the dog park/archaeological site arose prior to Thursday's city council meeting (see links here), following Nava's unsuccessful efforts to speak directly with Mayor Gahan about his concerns.

I noticed local architect Larry Timperman in attendance on Thursday night, sitting through the meeting without saying anything, and now it has been revealed that Timperman (the dog park designer?) was sent by City Hall to rebut objections to the dog park design that might arise should Nava or others attend the meeting.

It's dejà vu all over again.

Time after time, it's the same story. The more it becomes necessary for Gahan to lead, the less he is inclined to do so, and the more his handlers keep him swaddled, mummified, like the proverbial Russian baby. It's become almost comical.

Referencing another recent hot button issue: If rental property registration, inspection and enforcement really are such critical "musts," then why did four long years pass without Gahan lifting a finger to help the city's "vulnerable" renters, "as they are forced into sub-standard housing"?

Why did he fail to mention these vulnerable citizens at all during his re-election campaign?

And how could he not come in person to a city council meeting to make his rental reform case, and face the rental property owners in attendance?

Accordingly, Gahan might have spoken directly to Nava, and almost surely would have done so were Nava a priest, minister or rabbi -- you know, the sort of respectable religious personages who'd be safe to invite to your mayoral prayer breakfast.

Instead, Nava was shunted to David "Gatekeeper" Duggins, who is the city's economic development chieftain, and one whose energies might be devoted to filling the gaping hole formerly known as Pillsbury, rather than acting as dog park liaison.

Why is the minister of economics in charge of the city's park system?

City Hall also might have tackled Nava's objections head on, by releasing a statement detailing its side, or by having Timperman speak to the council in a pro-active, rather than sandbag passive, mode.

Why? Because openness and transparency play no role in "governance" as conducted from the white-bread, down-low bunker.

Meanwhile, six months have passed since the News and Tribune bothered to employ a New Albany beat reporter, and as this latest story has emerged, dozens of Clark County articles have been filed. An awards banquet trophy win has been trumpeted, a reality television show set in the Clark County jail lauded, and hundreds of ads about a cooking school (in Jeffersonville, of course) hoisted. The most recent New Albany council meeting was covered via press release and interview.

I do what I can, but it'd be nice to have some help every now and then. 

My goal at present is to find someone not already employed by the city to make the case for the dog park at Gahan's chosen Budd Road location. The mayor notoriously exaggerated a purported tidal wave of demand for aquatic center and parks project prioritized ahead of those vulnerable (take a number, take a seat -- I've got a pool to build) rental dwellers, but at least a handful of people tepidly showed support for water-borne recreation in some form or another.

However, I've yet to encounter a single instance of dog park advocacy undertaken in a public forum. 

I'll gladly turn over a blog post, sans editorial comment, to the first reader undertaking to explain the urgency of doggie recreation when the city's one-way streets continue to sap property values, degrade neighborhood quality of life, and contradict small business investment in downtown.

Meanwhile, Nava soldiers on.

Shouldn't Jeff Gahan speak with him? 

Dog crap on a sacred area: Jeff Gahan moves timeline forward, with the desecration of a 3,000-6,000 Native American site to begin Monday.

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