Friday, November 04, 2016

ON THE AVENUES: It’s our big fat Hibbardendum, and Jeff Gahan is carrying the superintendent across the threshold as Metro United Way tosses rice and One Southern Indiana steals all the liquor.

ON THE AVENUES: It’s our big fat Hibbardendum, and Jeff Gahan is carrying the superintendent across the threshold as Metro United Way tosses rice and One Southern Indiana steals all the liquor.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

It's extremely bad form for Gahan to be using our tax dollars to push the referendum. Yet one more reason to vote no. Also noteworthy along ethical lines is how the PAC (Families For Floyd County) threatened to sue last time over a bunch of neighbors putting out yard signs but seem to have no problem with this. The longer this type of chicanery goes on, the less I and others are inclined to financially support those who so consistently perform it.
-- Bluegill

On October 31 a typically breathless post appeared at New Albany's stand-alone City Hall web site, which begs the first of many questions almost certain to remain unasked by local reporters, their perennial omissions being why I crawl back from my stupor most weeks to make some semblance of an effort in this space, because damn it, someone should.

Why does City Hall need its own official web site when the City of New Albany already has one?

There it was, a strange Twilight Zone head-scratcher of a pre-election promo by an elected political entity, for a property tax referendum to which it has no direct connection – unless, of course, Mayor Jeff Gahan already has plotted a wee puddle for campaign finance beak-wetting amid $87 million, and yes, while they may be little puddles, they cumulatively add up to more than small beer.

Did you know that in 2015, Dan Cristiani Excavating was one of the city’s best-remunerated vendors at $650,214?

Just a spoonful of beak-wetting elixir from a splash pad like this goes a long way in staging a State Senate race, doesn’t it?

Right, Jeff?

Right, Chuck?

C’mon, guys, who is it going to be? Inquiring minds want to know ... and flee.

As an aside, in September, when the Floyd County Democratic Party publicly endorsed the Hibbardendum, teacher/candidate/sacrificial lamb/bro-in-law Steve Bonifer introduced the enabling resolution, prompting yet another question.

Who’ll be the next AARP-member teacher to run against incumbent Ed Clere in 2018?

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City Hall’s virtual advertisement boosting the Hibbardendum sought yet again to convey the heroic inevitability of the NA-FC school corporation’s ballot initiative, primarily by gathering together in one spot as many slavish endorsements by local elites as permitted by OSHA standards of pile-driven redundancy. It slipped around like a greased pig, from one presumed community pillar to the next.

It was as though Team Gahan's functionaries were slouched on a grimy one-way street corner selling NA anchor seal pencils, apparently without a parks opening ribbon to cut or a tax abatement to lavish on reluctant industrial park occupants, its shiny paean of a press release apple being polished, and celebrating the Hibbardendum by endeavoring mightily to toss any remaining intellectual integrity out the window.

Something that's awfully hard to do when you inhabit a bunker.

There was a predictable reminder of Gahan’s previous personal endorsement, presumably written by one of his many immediate family members employed by … that’s right, the school corporation. You could tell Gahan didn't write it himself, as it came perilously close to coherence.

After touring the schools and reviewing the conditions in New Albany and Floyd County, I am excited to support the many improvements in store for our students in New Albany-Floyd County Schools.

Or, translated: “Ask not what Bruce Hibbard can do for you, ask what you can do for Bruce Hibbard.” It’s not exactly JFK, but at least spellcheck was activated.

Next came a gushing tout from the Southern Indiana Realtors Association.

“We fully support the NAFCS Referendum which will bring much needed improvements to nine area schools,” stated Sara White, President-elect of the Southern Indiana Realtors Association and managing broker for Semonin Realtors Southern Indiana.

Try finding it on SIRA’s web site; more on that in a moment.

My personal favorite was the link to a letter from Tsar Hibbard himself, a man whose bags have been kept packed since arrival, 24-7-365, in expectation of verdant pastures to come, just over that glorious horizon where the golden parachutes grow like greenhouse ganja ... if Prosser were located in California.

In this era of competition for students, NAFCS is doing quite well. For the sixth consecutive school year, we have a record of number of transfer students! This provides our operating fund with over four million dollars of added revenue. Why are so many people choosing NAFCS? Our leadership team believes there is a simple answer: It’s our teachers and support staff. We have the hardest working, incredibly intelligent and most collaborative group of people working with our students. Furthermore, our entire staff embraces a model based upon results and improvement. This is why NAFCS provides our community with highly rated rigorous academic programs, championship athletic teams and world-class performing arts.

Please Vote “Yes” for NAFCS!

Given that Hibbard and the school system are prohibited from engaging in pro-referendum agitprop, this paragraph is highly instructive. It reveals that the primary mission of today’s school corporation is to lure students away from other neighboring school corporations, hence the importance of artificial turf on football fields and gold-plated bathroom fixtures last seen being looted from a fleeing Mobutu’s presidential palace in Zaire.

Consequently, when it came time to design a graphic interface for recruitment signs, a remarkable coincidence occurred. The imagery of saying “yes” to the general concept of NA-FC schools almost exactly mirrored that of saying “yes” to this particular property tax referendum, such that when Hibbard closes his pep talk with a resounding “yes” to schools, well, he’s not saying anything about the vote, just the rah-rah.

Clever devils, aren’t they?

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Wile E. Coyote isn’t the only genius enrolled in this adult education outreach program.

According to City Hall, One Southern Indiana has thrown its considerable dead-as-roadkill weight behind the Hibbardendum, as Wendy Dant Chesser indicated in a letter to the News and Tribune, dated October 30, though found only on City Hall's web site, not anywhere on the newspaper's, except that interestingly, on September 19, in a newspaper article about the Democratic Party’s gratifyingly Boniferian resolution, it was mentioned that 1Si already had endorsed it.

Well, hell, everyone has endorsed it.

The NAACP, the NCAA, the SPCA, the CIA, the FBI, the city’s fire chief, its police chief, the building commissioner, and surely five or six bushels of indifferent city officials and employees who astutely reason that their failure to be seen plumping for the featherbedding might result in skinnier pay packets, or even worse, a 1:00 a.m. phone call from His Serene Highness.

Couldn't they at least get their dates straight?

Meanwhile, with the upper strata ready to start moving some dirt, Metro United Way has made a late entry into the fray with this.

Just today, committed community partners Metro United Way released an endorsement of the NAFCS Referendum.

“Metro United Way’s top priorities are for our young children to arrive at kindergarten prepared to succeed and for our students to graduate on time, prepared for college, life and career. We are also know that learning environments play a large role in student success. That is why, we are hopeful that the New Albany Floyd County School referendum will be embraced by the Floyd County community on November 8th,” stated Joe Tolan, President & CEO of Metro United Way.

Just like City Hall’s recitation of the Southern Indiana Realtors Association servile bootlicking, Metro United Way’s mash note seems to exist at no other planetary portal than City Hall’s own propaganda arm.

Why?

Since Tuesday, I’ve been asking Metro United Way for clarification. I was asked to please move the conversation from public social media (where folks can see it) to private messaging (where they can't), and I did, with the entirely expected result being three days of absolute do-nothing stonewalling.

Metro United Way, whose board includes a who's who of regional luminaries, including NAFC schools lifer Dr. Louis Jensen, briefly waved off questions about its 501(c)3 non-profit status before retreating into hiding.

How is this organization in any position to "endorse" the Hibbardendum?

Moreover, and the overall gist of my rant, why is the city of New Albany expending tax dollars to serve as the central information, argumentum ad verecundiam portal in support of the school corporation’s pitch for property tax dollars?

Were the SIRA and Metro United Way testimonials handed directly to Gahan?

Does Gahan work for the citizens of New Albany, or Bruce Hibbard?

I’m reminded of the top-down tone of pre-Brexit in the United Kingdom, as every last representative of usual-suspect officialdom took a turn shilling for a “stay” vote, perhaps never bothering to look outside, at the restless and sometimes angry crowds, their middle fingers raised to the heavens, because how many times must one be compelled to remind these wankers in official circles that the usual finger-wagging hypocrites quite simply are loathed?

To close, I’ll speak for myself, and for me alone.

I’ve never been cut from the anti-tax bolt of cloth. My mom was a teacher, and I've been around teachers my whole life. We’ve no children, but are perfectly willing to pay our fair share for education.

However, as with the vote that preceded it, the stated terms of this referendum are fundamentally deceptive. The chicanery accompanying them is rampant and frankly odious. This exercise is about bright shiny objects, not the education of kids. This is not a community discussion about the future of education. It’s a top-down edict, and a call for the rabble to bow to their betters, form a line and stand in order.

Consequently, it's no wonder Mayor Gahan is so attached to the grandeur of the Hibbardendum. It's exactly the same level of Disneymandered Potemkin Village Boondoggling that prefaces the sluices of his municipal governance in New Albany. The greased pig I mentioned earlier? He's in slop.

I'm ready to have a community-wide discussion about what's best for children. Anytime, anywhere -- and this referendum isn't it. Not even close. I voted against it, and I understand this act will offend some readers.

But I believe the opprobrium should be directed against the school corporation's upper management, especially Hibbard, because in the process of making a bad case for its own bad idea, it has insulted our intelligence, again, and again, and again.

In the end, it wasn't necessary for me to take into consideration the phalanx of "business as usual" pimps brought together by the Genius of the Flood Plain to perform some soft shoe and clink a few glasses.

But thanks just the same, mayor. The refresher course is much appreciated, and I'll just pass on the entree.

(Update on Sunday, November 6)

Our big fat Hibbardendum (1): Follow the PAC-besotted usual suspects' beak wetting in the $87 million schools referendum. 

Our big fat Hibbardendum (2): The more things stay the same, or our school bond referendum, 2016.

Our big fat Hibbardendum (3): City voters, take note, because just as in 2015, the NA-FC bond referendum is a "driving oriented, suburban school model."

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October 27: ON THE AVENUES: It's NAC's 12th birthday, and the beatings will continue until morale improves.

October 20: ON THE AVENUES: Key events in the New Albanian rebirth, but first, a piccolo of grappa, per favore.

October 13: ON THE AVENUES: They're coming to take me away.

October 6: ON THE AVENUES: His nose knows tolls and polls (2010).

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