Saturday, May 28, 2016

Let's recall the council's role in the Story of the Steeple, starting way back in 2012.

Photo by Robert Landrum.

It wasn't enough to divert the paper's reality television fetishism from the top spot in its daily e-mail news tout, but the Second Baptist Church on Main Street has a new steeple.

In a "Cheers and Jeers" over the weekend, one of the paper's long-term sous chefs made note of the fundraising effort to make the steeple possible, and in the interest of historical accuracy when recalling this historic rehab, let's not forget that the city chipped in, too -- and it was mildly controversial at the time.

From the Red Devil Chronicle, July 19, 2013:

New Albany council OKs funds for church, by Daniel Suddeath

 ... When the money was appropriated in February, Councilmen Greg Phipps and Scott Blair voted against the measure. Blair said at the time he had reservations about whether matching funds could be raised to complete the initial phases of the project. Phipps cited his belief in separation of church and state matters as his reason for voting against the appropriation.

From NA Confidential, October 2, 2012:

1 - City council meeting tweeted as it happened, October 1

A-12-21 $ to restore 2nd Baptist Clock Tower. Discussion. Phipps voices church-state concerns; easements must be included. Gonder dislikes.

Steeple replacement and erection sailed through council at a time when it was imperative to fund various pablum-by-the-numbers Bicentennial galas so that four years later, Bob Caesar still can refuse to provide me specifics on expenditures incurred by his party-like-it's-1817 committee.

(Look for a FOIA request, coming soon; after all, I've waited almost a year)

As was obvious at the time, Councilman Phipps was right about the church/state separation issues inherent in the steeple discussion. In effect, council provided "challenge funding" (John Gonder's words) to one active congregation while withholding it from others, although in retrospect, the steeple's refurbishment may have been the sole Bicentennial gesture toward the city's African-American community -- most of whom do not attend Second Baptist Church.

Water, meet bridge and flow downstream.

All's well that ends ... well, the steeple does look lovely, and it's been immensely entertaining to watch as the city's propaganda arm carefully parsed praise for the project, given that personages high on Oz's Fundamentally Stinkier Enemies List carried the ball for the steeple, Irv Stumler and Jerry Finn prime among them.

Just a thought, but can we do something yet about the street grid that kills people?

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