Thursday, March 31, 2016

ON THE AVENUES: Abortion? Wichita, or maybe Targu Mures.

ON THE AVENUES: Abortion? Wichita, or maybe Targu Mures.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

This column originally was published in 2010, and repeated four years ago after the primary election. In my 2012 opening remarks, I noted the irony attendant in Indiana's “Democratic” party nominating John Gregg for governor.

Not only is Gregg noted for his anti-abortion stance, but at the time, he'd made public his opposition to equal marriage rights in Indiana. Gregg came closer than expected in a losing effort against the abysmal Mike Pence, who recently signed legislation further restricting abortion rights in a state where it's already under onerous siege. The Des Moines Register gets it:

Over the years, anti-choice activists have successfully convinced policymakers to restrict access to abortion, to inconvenience or humiliate women, and to discourage medical professionals from providing the outpatient procedure. But the Indiana law is in a league of absurdity all its own.

Indiana's Democrats are too intellectually flaccid to deserve my 2016 vote against Pence, but I'm likely to cast it anyway. I trust we'll have a Libertarian. In the meantime, here's the reprise.

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May 24, 2012

In January, 2010, Scott Roeder went on trial in Wichita, Kansas and was convicted of murdering Dr. George Tiller during a church service in May, 2009. Roeder methodically stalked and killed Tiller because the doctor was an “abortionist” – just like John Irving’s fictional Dr. Wilbur Larch in Cider House Rules, although Tiller’s life ended somewhat more suddenly, and far less whimsically, than Larch’s.

When I hear the word “abortion,” I think about the dingy gray apartment blocks in Bucharest, capital of Romania. It is probable that few readers will have the same reaction, so kindly permit me to explain.

Romania’s 20th-century history was decidedly turbulent. Its pro-fascist leaders entered the Second World War on the German side, mimicking their Nazi overlords by expelling, and later savagely murdering, native Jewish and Gypsy populations. Romania volunteered troops for the German invasion of the Soviet Union, but when the fortunes of war reversed, the country lay squarely in the path of the Communist military steamroller as it drove westward.

The Kremlin fiddled, and Romania danced. As a Soviet client state during the decades that followed, Romania’s socioeconomic ideology mirrored that of the USSR’s. Consumer goods were not a priority, and contraceptives generally could not be obtained. However, as in the Soviet Union, abortion was perfectly legal, readily available and absurdly cheap. Some estimates suggest that there were four abortions for every live birth in Romania by the year 1966.

Meanwhile, by the mid-1960’s, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu had consolidated power, embarking upon a quarter-century reign of thuggish oppression, personal megalomania and sheer doltishness noteworthy even by rock-bottom Warsaw Pact standards.

Accordingly, Ceausescu decreed abortion illegal in 1967, a change that occurred over night, without warning. Apparently the self-described “Genius of the Carpathians” had determined that Romania’s population needed to be increased, and a ban on both contraceptives and abortion would help achieve his aim – not that any thought had been given on feeding the extra mouths, or how they would be educated and employed, or where they would live.

Ceausescu’s abortion ban had the abrupt, short term effect of doubling the birth rate, but this spike was not accompanied by commensurate gains in material living standards. Romanians managed to adapt, and a steady decline in births commenced, to the point that some twenty years later, the country’s population had ceased to grow at all.

Black market contraceptives were one factor in the birth rate’s fall. Another development was more lethal in its effect, because the only Romanian population statistic that steadily increased during the years following the anti-abortion decree of 1967 was the country’s maternal mortality rate, which cruelly tripled. The likeliest explanation is that those women dying from the effects of botched, illegal abortions were included with statistics documenting those who had died during childbirth.

Until Ceausescu’s long overdue toppling and immediate execution in 1989, the Romanian governmental bureaucracy actively intervened in the sex lives of the country’s citizens, sating the dictator’s psychotic desire that greater numbers of New Communist men and women be created to man the steadily decaying ramparts of a collapsing society. Ceausescu’s motivation was purely secular, although it just as easily might have been religious. Either way, the effects would have been just as damning.

“Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days,” available through Netflix, is a harrowing and compelling Romanian film that tells the story of a university student’s illegal abortion in the year 1987. It is reality at its grittiest, and not an easy movie to watch. There are no flatulence jokes, car crashes, gun battles, transformers or “Sex in the City” romantic escapism.

I shan’t reveal the plot, which is eloquent in its simplicity, but it bears repeating that the film’s action takes place against a stifling backdrop of sanctioned, stifling fanaticism, in this instance big government’s punitive intrusion into the lives of ordinary people. In 1987, as for twenty years before, all parties involved in transacting an illegal abortion faced lengthy jail terms if caught. In addition to the threat of maiming and even death, a Romanian woman who in the enforced absence of legal contraceptives sought to terminate a pregnancy could be imprisoned and her career – her very life – irreparably ruined.

There may be little outside of cynical Cold War politics and a certain dollop of regional backwardness to justify the dismal record of tin pots like Nicolae Ceausescu, and yet there exists a minority among us, right here in America, some resplendent in their gated communities, others with no worldly possessions, but irrespective of station, possessed of a fervent belief that leaden control must be exercised over the individual’s reproductive freedom.

If asked, at least some among this minority would advocate the imposition in America of the semi-literate Romanian strongman’s solution: A complete ban on abortion, and whatever expansion of a police state is necessary to universally enforce it.

There are still others – a tiny handful, perhaps including the convicted murderer Scott Roeder – advancing purely terroristic violence as a means of curbing a practice that they decry in precisely the same terms, which may be an eye for an eye, but makes little sense from the “prince of peace” religious standpoint in Christianity. That’s enduringly frightening to me.

Speaking only for myself, no single issue better illustrates the struggle for equality on the part of fully half the world’s population than the right of reproductive choice for women. While a woman’s freedom to choose the option of abortion may well represent the extreme component of reproductive choice, one surely capable of being reduced in frequency with continued education and access to contraception, a clear majority of Americans believe that it should remain just such a legalized, regulated, and defined option.

What happened in Romania (for that matter, in Kansas) should not happen in America.

Should it?

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March 24: ON THE AVENUES: Introducing New Albany Craft Beer Week, May 27 – June 4, 2016.

March 17: ON THE AVENUES: Erin Go Blagh -- a timeless classic for a green-hued holiday.

March 10: ON THE AVENUES: A funny thing happened on the way to a city council nightcap.

March 3: ON THE AVENUES: Since 1960, outside looking in.

Matt Oakley proposes giving the hospital to the Baptists for free, because otherwise, county government would have money.

Q. What happens when the newspaper combines cooking school !!! with pet o' the month nominations?

A. Bowser Burgoo.

(My compliments to the late, great John Ed Pearce for the dish)

Meanwhile, Matt Oakley takes his case for enforced starvation to an on-line click-bait bracket, which Ted Heavrin would win handily if he still served on the County Council.

Infrastructure and economic development? Just a thought.

Floyd Councilman Matt Oakley proposing tax cut via online petition, by Chris Morris (Clark County Cornucopia)

NEW ALBANY — Matt Oakley does not plan to serve the final year of his term on the Floyd County Council doing nothing.

Oakley recently posted his plan to cut taxes online at the website floydforward.com, a free petition site where he is encouraging people to read the plan and sign it if they approve. He said with the money the county will receive from the sale of Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services — $75 million of $150 million will be paid up front if approved — county taxpayers should be able to keep more of their money. The other half from the sale will be paid over a 10-year period.

"What’s driving the growth in cities? Small-business entrepreneurs. And many of them are women.”

"What’s driving the growth in cities? Small-business entrepreneurs."

Except in New Albany. Here, it's parks.

What the Boom in Women-Owned Businesses Means for Cities, by Eillie Anzilotti (City Lab)

... “The economic landscape is shifting,” he tells City Lab. “At a time when large companies are decentralizing their operations or moving overseas or going to cheaper locales, what’s driving the growth in cities? Small-business entrepreneurs. And many of them are women.”

By the sheer numbers, men are still founding more companies, but the rate at which women are doing so is pulling the statistic ever more equal.

What remains decidedly unequal, however, are two things: funding and size.

"Birth control and Obamacare: A pious hijacking at the Supreme Court."

The last paragraph is the clincher, but you'll have to click through to read it because I'm no human spoiler alert.

Birth control and Obamacare: A pious hijacking at the Supreme Court (The Economist)

 ... Think for a moment about what it means to “hijack” something. The first example that comes to mind is not an insurance plan but a plane that nefarious passengers commandeer for sinister purposes. A “carjacking”, similarly, involves jumping into someone else’s vehicle and stealing it. Any form of hijacking is marked by violently wresting property from its legitimate owner. And here is where Mr Clement’s metaphor breaks down. When the government arranges for contraceptive coverage with the insurance company used by the religious charity, it is not commandeering anybody’s property. Nor is it taking metaphorical control of the group’s health insurance plan. Instead, the government is seeking to fulfil Obamacare’s near-universal guarantee to female employees by working with the same insurance company or third-party plan administrator that provides the rest of the employee’s health benefits. Neither the insurance company nor the plan is the property of the religious charity: Aetna is not a wholly owned subsidiary of Catholic Charities. The non-profit and the insurer are independent entities. When a school brings a child to a playground that his parents (for some reason) opt to avoid, the teachers are not “hijacking” the swingset. They are using a resource for the child’s benefit. The parents may be displeased about the school trip to the forbidden playground, but any complaint they raise would necessarily have a paternalistic flavour. Employers do not have such a role vis-a-vis their employees.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Unisex.

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 Trump-ers and Trump-ets that you're brighter than 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 who want nothing more than to be able to cross the street without being mowed down by a motorist, all we have is time -- and the opportunity to learn something.

You may have seen this image on Facebook. It's from a Kroger store in Athens, Georgia, and has been shared 112,000 times.


Judging from some of the responses, it seems that a great many people are not aware of what "unisex" means.

Unisex

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Unisex refers to things that are not gender-specific, being suitable for any gender,[1][2] but can also be another term for gender-blindness.
The term was coined in the 1960s and was used fairly informally. Though the combining form uni- is from the Latin unus meaning one, the term seems to have been influenced by words such as united and universal where the uni- prefix takes on the sense of shared. In this sense, it can be seen as meaning shared by both sexes.[3]

You no longer have an excuse, Dan.

Minutes from the March "merchant mixer" meeting.

That's the Carnegie over yonder.

I've passing these minutes along verbatim; as noted elsewhere, I don't have the list of questions prepared for Mickey Thompson, answered by David Duggins, and supplemented later by a more complete mailing.

The next merchant "mixer" meeting will be on Tuesday, April 19, at 8:30 a.m. It will be hosted by the Carnegie Center, on the corner of Spring and Bank.

Police Chief Todd Bailey is being invited to the next meeting. If you're reading this and have a question, send it to me and I'll forward to the right persons.


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Merchant/Business meeting (at Wick’s Pizza)

Date: March 15th, 2016

Call to order: Kim Johnson

In Attendance: 38

New Business & Updates:

Thanks to everyone that attended our March meeting. We want to thank Brad again for hosting our meeting.

Mickey Thompson was unable to attend our meeting but Dave Duggins was at the meeting and answered some of the questions. Dave will get with Mickey and they will be sending us the additional answers. 6 Will put extra trash pickup on schedule, 8 yes painting of parking will happen 9 yes they will let us know, 10 once weather stays warmer, street cleaners will be back. Call 812 948 5352 for street department regarding potholes or clean up. Dave and Mickey will compile more answers and send out.

It was suggested we need additional trash cans and a question was ask about possible bike racks. The City is currently working on a plan. Another question ask if you were allowed to put your own bike rack at your business? If you were going to put your own bike rack up, you would need Board of Works approval.

Several broke down vehicles are parked in Downtown; this would be handled by the traffic department, 812-948-5303.

Stacy asked if parking lot owners could have a tax benefit to open up for public parking, the city cannot offer discounts except on New business but Dave said he would see if there is other benefits that could help. It is bad for parking lots to be closed off for all how zones. City is currently in the process of buying empty lots behind the brewery, hopefully will be adding some parking. It was suggested if a 1st street sign could be added to the corner, they felt that would solve some of the problem.

Roger brought up the importance of utilizing public parking for business owners and customers it is not that far. Matt asked how many people at the meeting actually park in the garage. Only 2 people said they use the garage, so remember if you park in front of your neighbors they are doing the same. It was suggested to park in the garage and if you have safety concerns one solution could be to move your car closer to your business/shop later in the day or call the police department and they would escort you to your car. The lights in the garage are checked frequently but if you see a light out please contact the city immediately. The second and third level of the garage is free all the time; we need to help spread the word to other business owners, employees and customers. If you are hosting an event please encourage parking in the garage and if you are expecting a large group call the city and they may be able to reserve spots for you. The more people out walking the more eyes out for a safer place.

Ribbon Cuttings
April 4th Gospel Bird 11am
April 8th - Green Earth Outdoors 3:30 pm
April 21st - Eventful 203 4:30 pm
Adrienne’s has not yet scheduled ribbon cutting, so stay tuned.

STREET CLOSURES/EVENTS
Car Show - May 15, some streets will be closed.
Tri at the Y has been CANCELLED
Fest of Ale - June 4th 3 pm to 7 pm – Held at the Riverfront Amphitheater - Possible vendor opportunity. This is fund raiser event for the WHAS Crusade for Children. More information will be given as we receive.
April 23rd the great diaper event at the Farmers market.
July Hair Spray the Musical
Please see attached letter from Fire Chief Matthew Juliot

Jason Applegate with Extol Magazine talked to the group about advertising opportunities. They cover from Madison, Jasper, Scottsburg they target larger businesses ads because of the look of the magazine they want. He loves local small businesses though so they are offering 12 businesses a month, your name goes in the pool they are offering heavily discounted prices $200 and one free let him know If you want in the pool jason@extolmag.com 502-338-5083. Again he loves local and wants to help. One business will be featured monthly too.

We are proud to announce Today's women has nominated Angie Fenton, Adrienne and Stefanie Griffith, please support them.

Tourism updates from Luanne they are hosting adult softball May 12th to the 15th; they are promoting to bring in more people. They will be playing in Clarksville, Jeffersonville and in New Albany at Anderson Park. Tourism will be promoting national travel week the 1st week of May. She also visited Midwest Living Magazine to promote our area, Ian Hall and Matt McMahon also attended.

April 16th Brunch menu at Brooklyn and the Butcher will launch.

Courtney with the City is working on a volunteer clean up day. She asks if you know of an area that needs attention or if you would like to volunteer to help, please contact her. Clean up date is set for April 23rd from 8 am to 1 pm.

Larry Ricke was on the Board of Develop New Albany when first started and we appreciated his comment at the meeting. Larry said when Develop New Albany was first started this right here was the Vision. And now the Vision has become Reality. Thanks Larry, we can all be proud of what we have in New Albany

Question with Answers are attached.

We will continue to send out the minutes from the meetings but we would love for you to come and be a part of the discussion and suggestions. Hope to see you in April.
If you are interested in hosting one of our meetings, please let us know.

Next meeting:
April 19th – 8:30 am – The Carnegie Center

Adjourn: Kim Johnson

The remainder of the city's answer's to questions asked by merchants.


The next merchant "mixer" meeting will be on Tuesday, April 19, at 8:30 a.m. It will be hosted by the Carnegie Center, on the corner of Spring and Bank. Police Chief Todd Bailey is being invited to the next meeting. If you're reading this and have a question, send it to me and I'll forward to the right persons.

I've already posted on topics that arose last time.

Team Gahan's breathtaking passive/aggressive answer to the question of making a safe pedestrian crossing at Main and W. 1st.



Signage disparities at the State Street Parking Garage.


Questions were to have been asked of Mickey Thompson, but David Duggins ran interference instead. The actual questions were not included with the answers mailed yesterday, but you probably can infer them.

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Snow Clean Up – The street department does operate on a schedule during snow events. Insuring main roads are cleared for emergency vehicles is the first priority. Individuals should feel empowered to clear spots in front of their businesses for patrons as they deem necessary.
Storm Drains – Storm drains are cleared on a schedule. Should you notice a clogged drain, please contact the Storm Water Department to report storm drain issues 812-945-1989
Broken Limbs on sidewalks – There be excessive debris, please contact the Street Department 812-948-5352.
 § 150.101 CLEANLINESS OF PREMISES.
   (A)   Responsibilities of owners and occupants. Every owner of a dwelling containing two or more dwelling units shall be responsible for maintaining in a clean and sanitary condition the dwelling units and the shared or public area of the dwelling premises thereof. Every occupant of a dwelling containing less than two dwelling units shall be responsible for maintaining in a clean and sanitary condition the shared or public area of the dwelling and premises thereof, unless otherwise provided for by the rental agreement.
   (B)   Responsibility of every occupant of a dwelling or dwelling unit. Every occupant of a dwelling or dwelling unit shall keep in a clean and sanitary condition that part of the dwelling, dwelling unit, facilities, yard and otherwise, all of the premises which he or she and his or her family occupies, uses and controls.
   (C)   Municipal department responsible for administration. Unless specifically stated elsewhere in this chapter, the Building Commissioner shall be responsible for the administration of actions taken under this chapter, including, but not limited to, the issuance of notices to the landowners and other persons, the issuance of certificates of cost to the County Auditor and the administration of the appeals procedure.
   (D)   Maintaining premises free of debris, trash, litter, garbage, refuse, junk and abandoned vehicles.
      (1)   The owner of any lot or parcel of real estate within the city shall maintain the premises, including the real estate, or any alley or sidewalk abutting the real estate, free of all debris, trash, rubbish, litter, garbage, refuse, junk and abandoned vehicles, when the material is within view of any public premises, public alley, street, highway or adjacent property, to such an extent that the premises is a hazard to public health, safety and welfare.
      (2)   The presence of debris, trash, rubbish, litter, garbage, refuse, tires, junk and abandoned vehicles is injurious to the public welfare and is a nuisance.

Crosswalks on Main Street -  At this time crosswalks at corner of Main and First would present a safety hazard as there is no light or stop sign to protect pedestrians and signal a safe crossing. Pedestrians would be invited to walk in an unprotected area.
Pot Holes – Street Department 812-948-5352
Downtown Garbage Can Pick-Up – Downtown trash cans will be picked up twice weekly. We are working on a plan to add trash cans to our downtown area as well. We will keep you in the loop as that plan continues to evolve.
Handicap Spots – The handicap spot on Pearl at the corner of main will be repainted by the street department.
Re-surfacing – When the plan is completed advanced notification will be given.
Downtown Attractiveness – This is a team effort. The city is in the process of planning a spring neighborhood clean-up. We are also working to increase pick up of downtown receptacles. As the above ordnance states, occupants are responsible for shared public areas such as sidewalks or alley ways. The city does not employ inmates from the county jail for any purposes as the jail is operated by the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department, not the City of New Albany.
Street Sweepers - Sweepers do not operate year round. For questions regarding sweeper schedules call the Storm Water Department 812-945-1989.

Street Department – Phone number 812-948-5352

There's been a fire. Consider the Katherine Fraze Fire Fund at Go Fund Me.


Some folks hereabouts think Katherine Fraze is crazy. Most of them work for various branches of local government, and this fact alone always has been recommendation enough for me. You go, girl.

Sadly, a Fb friend messaged me about a fire, of which I previously was unaware.

I don't know if you are aware, but Kathy Fraze has had a tragic fire at her place, where she lost her home, everything she owns, her birds, her beloved raven; they have taken her dogs, and refuse to give them back. There is a Go Fund Me page set up for her. Watch for coverage on TV. There are pictures of the devastation on her websites: The Dog Lady and Save That Dog Sanctuary. The Go Fund Me is listed as Katherine Fraze Fire Fund.

Following is the message at the Katherine Fraze Fire Fund.

This is my friend who has the Save that Dog Sanctuary. Last night she lost everything in a fire. All her belongings, 6K in cash, her home, and most of her rescue dogs had to go into animal control.

Katherine has devoted her life to saving animals. She has lived in a camper (with no running water) for as long as I have known her to run her rescue. She is a person who doesn't want much just her animals and her land. You can visit her rescue website.

She is sleeping in her vehicle on her property at the moment to tend to the animals not taken by animal control. She had a small amount of insurance, which won't be enough. She needs our help and every penny helps! Thank you.

I've donated. Please consider doing so. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Team Gahan's breathtaking passive/aggressive answer to the question of making a safe pedestrian crossing at Main and W. 1st.


You simply cannot make up these things.

The question about the hazardous situation for walkers at Main and W. 1st, where each corner now is occupied by multiple thriving businesses (as well as the YMCA), and parking is scattered on all sides of them, was asked at the last merchant meeting.

David Duggins replied somewhat honestly (for him), by saying the city had no plan at all to do anything to remedy safety at Main and W. 1st.

With even more time to think about it, Team Gahan now has issued an improved excuse for inaction.

Crosswalks on Main Street - At this time crosswalks at corner of Main and First would present a safety hazard as there is no light or stop sign to protect pedestrians and signal a safe crossing. Pedestrians would be invited to walk in an unprotected area.

Wait ... but who other than the city of New Albany possesses the ability to install design elements to protect pedestrians?

In other words, it's Team Gahan's stretch of road to do with as Oz pleases, but there'll be no fundamental safety improvements -- and because there can be no fundamental safety improvements, there'll be no fundamental safety improvements.

This may be the most idiotic example of circular logic that I've ever seen in New Albany, and that's saying a lot.

By refusing to take action, and by deploying its inaction as the reason for it doing nothing, City Hall actually commits an "action," if only in a destructive breach, because it detracts from the value of these businesses and perpetuates conditions that are plainly unsafe.

This is true just as surely as if Main were a one-way street, though because there are no design elements at this intersection to slow traffic, it might as well be a one-way street.

Someone's going to get hurt here, and when it happens, Jeff Gahan will have the blood on his hands. Period.

I've been asking this question for months, but I didn't ask it at the merchant meeting. Rather, it was asked by a businessman who literally has invested millions in downtown New Albany.

And this is the best answer that Gahan's minions can provide. Think about that.

How do these people sleep at night?

Bored of works? Try this: "St. Paul launches effort to change the city's driving culture — by enforcing crosswalk laws."


This sentence bears repeating, again and again, until Jeff Gahan, Warren Nash and the rest of the politicians wearing blinders with pride decide to stick hesitant, tepid toes outside their auto-centric comfort zones and have a stab at reality.

But the crash was a classic example of the tragedy of the crosswalk, where safety and laws say one thing, but speed and the street say another.

Imagine public officials committed to changing a hazardous culture rather than burying their heads in the sand. Gracious, up there in St. Paul, it's almost like they're trying to lead.

Must be their water. Or ours.

St. Paul launches effort to change the city's driving culture — by enforcing crosswalk laws, by Bill Lindeke (Minn Post)

Shelby Kokesch was killed last week trying to cross the street, on her way from the Minnesota History Center to the other side of busy Kellogg Boulevard. As Kokesch and her mother stepped out into traffic, one car stopped to let her pass, following the technicalities of Minnesota's crosswalk law. But the second car, an SUV, did not.

I'm sure the driver feels horrible; nobody wants to drive into people. But the crash was a classic example of the tragedy of the crosswalk, where safety and laws say one thing, but speed and the street say another.

The death also marks an inauspicious beginning as safety advocates and the St. Paul Police Department launch the city’s most ambitious campaign yet aimed at changing St. Paul’s driving culture. All year long, teams of neighbors and police will conduct stings aimed at shifting the priorities of St. Paul streets, one ticket at a time.

Rosenbarger retains job by hailing city's invention of revolutionary Speed Dip at Elm and Fifth.

New pavement marks the future sinkhole.

Right there, by the Break Wind Lofts at Duggins Flats ... Elm Street, a drag strip leading from the post office to 10th ... a barber shop, already devalued by the one-way street, now further spat upon by cars constantly weaving lanes to avoid hitting John Rosenbarger's patented Traffic Calming Speed Dip, or bottoming out, or slamming on the brakes at too high a rate of speed, threatening the tailgating Kentuckian behind him ... and do we ever have conversations about the extent of  the damage caused by the heavy trucks traveling these arterial streets at high rates of speed, which come to think of it, sounds pretty hazardous for walkers, too?

Looking west toward Padgett Way.

No, we don't, because Jeff doesn't do details.

I played around yesterday with video, none of it worth saving, but potentially revealing. An hour in a lawn chair later in the week seems merited.

Today's statement of what should be obvious is prompted by this note passed to the Green Mouse. Thanks, and keep those cards and letters coming.

Any chance you can bring some attention to the extremely dangerous road condition at 5th and Elm? The road has caved in and has created an extremely large pothole-like area. Multiple fixes seem to have occurred, yet the condition remains the same. How someone has not had a serious accident yet is a miracle.
Better yet, try driving your car over the depressed area even at a slow speed and you'll see how dangerous it is, especially if you didn't know the road condition was there. I did stop at the street department last fall and asked about it and the cause has something to do with the sewer pipes underneath the road. They said they were working on it. Some work has occurred, but I see no change in the level of safety. Thanks so much.

Ombudsman, we have a call at the American Legal Publishing Corporation.

Right here.

300 West Crowell? Head for Google ...


That's Monroe, North Carolina. Let's hope the American Legal Publishing Corporation is sending invoices to the correct city.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Why does Team Gahan always pee on pedestrians?


It began in September, 2015, with this observation: We cannot know if the push-button crosswalk buttons work when so many of them are broken.

Jeff Speck, who once authored a walkability study for New Albany -- a document now being depleted, one precious page at a time, as toilet paper in Jeff Gahan's executive washroom -- is quoted here on the topic of push-button crosswalk signals: How Push-to-Walk reduces the quality of walkable neighborhoods.

It is almost always the cities with push-button crossings that need the most help ... push-buttons almost always mean that the automobile dominates, as they are typically installed in conjunction with a new signal timing in which crossing times are shorter and less frequent. Far from empowering walkers, the push button turns them into second-class citizens; pedestrians should never have to ask for a light.

And boy, does the auto dominate in New Albany.

In New Albany, push button crosswalk signals are not placebos. Walkers actually must push the "beg button" to receive a safe (often a facetious term) signal to cross. If the button malfunctions, there'll be no signal -- ever.

Not only do push buttons turn pedestrians into second-class citizens; broken push buttons surely deter the notion of a pleasant walk just as effectively as sidewalk parking, and other defaults wherein the sidewalk always is blocked first, not a parking space or a street lane.

"I've devoted my life as a social worker to people with developmental disabilities, and can't even walk with them in NA if they are in a wheelchair or have gait issues."


Below are photos taken on Monday morning, March 28, at the intersection of one-way Pearl Street and one-way Spring Street. It's the epicenter of downtown, quite close to where Bob Caesar never imagined a person walking from the Elks Club to his jewelry store to buy a diamond.

There are a total of eight push button signals, two on each corner. The ones pictured below are broken. In fact, one is broken on each corner. At least two of these have been broken for months. They're not the only ones downtown which are disabled, but at no other corner equipped with push buttons is traffic so constantly hazardous owing to drivers increasing speed to run beat red lights.

Note that the issue of malfunctioning push buttons doesn't address the situation at intersections like W 1st and Main, or Bank and Main, where nothing -- zero, zilch, nada -- is in place to slow traffic such that walkers can cross the street safely.

You'll note that throughout the period since the release of the Speck walkability study, Team Gahan has been careful to couch its public pronouncements about the future of street grid reform, of which there have been almost none, as being entirely devoted to making traffic safer.

Reams of evidence from across America and the world point to the flaws of this mode of "thinking," and provide abundant proof that had walkability been pursued first, before the other expensive projects pursued by the current administration, it would have been like a dose of steroids, enhancing investment and not devaluing it.

As it stands, there's a toxic stew under preparation.


  • An auto-centric street grid
  • Rebirth of downtown small business
  • Poor lighting
  • Inconsistent sidewalk maintenance
  • Refusal to enforce ordinances (should there be sidewalk parking, ever?)
  • Antediluvian municipal gatekeepers


Quite literally, multiple accidents are waiting to happen, as we prioritize one bright shiny object after another.

If Jeff Gahan isn't going to do anything substantive to make New Albany a walkable city, can't he just say so aloud, for attribution, and free us from the pain of watching him prevaricate?

Any suggestion he makes to the contrary is being disproved every single day on real city streets, where nothing is being done to indicate any serious intent to improve walkability, and plenty is being done to discourage it. There's only one honest way to conclude these thoughts:

Mr. Mayor, as it pertains to walkability, just shit or get off the pot. 

You're embarrassing the city by making private promises constantly contradicted by public indifference -- by your bizarre insistence that you're making omelettes without breaking eggs. Even your own people know it's a shell game.

Join me for an actual walk some day, and I'll show you exactly how urban walking works in real life, as opposed to the fantasyland bunker you prefer inhabiting. The same offer goes for your minions.

Do any of you walk downtown, ever?





Team Gahan's walkability gap (4 of many): "We’re all apparently okay with dead pedestrians as collateral damage for ensuring cars can travel quickly."



Team Gahan's walkability gap (3 of 3): "A Playbook on the Politics of Better Streets." WE NEED IT.


Craig's revenge? Attack of the Killer Zombie Street Mattresses shifts to a rental property on Market.

This is Market, not Elm. We believe it's a different mattress.

Last week, we visited the Mattress Corner of 5th & Elm.

Twelve days later, that mattress is still right there, justified and ancient, on the Elm Street curb.


Finally on the 23rd, it was gone. Is the third time a charm?

Meanwhile, the street mattress explosion shifts to Market Street, within eyesight of the Break Wind Lofts at Duggins Flats, the posited "ripple effect" of which never mentioned going to the mattresses.

The pride, the glory ... the Craig Block.

Today's street mattress comes to us courtesy of Ron Craig, who recently testified at council against any form of regulation pertaining to his rental properties.

Those protests go back a few years. I can find no follow-ups, either at NAC or local media. Does anyone know how the Great Vinyl Siding Hairball of 2012 turned out?

November 10, 2012
Deal proposed in preservation case regarding vinyl siding on New Albany building, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

June 3, 2012

Terminal ignorance of the law: Four years of vinyl siding sideshows ...


May 20, 2012

Too many cooks spoil the broth?

A belated R.I.P. to Delmer Berg, who fought against fascism.

The decidedly anti-communist Senator John McCain was moved to reflect on Delmer Berg's generation, his thoughts filtered through memories of a Hemingway novel.

John McCain: Salute to a Communist, by John McCain (New York Times)

... You might consider them romantics, fighting in a doomed cause for something greater than their self-interest. And even though men like Mr. Berg would identify with a cause, Communism, that inflicted far more misery than it ever alleviated — and rendered human dignity subservient to the state — I have always harbored admiration for their courage and sacrifice in Spain.

Berg died several weeks ago, even as Bernie Sanders continued his campaign for president as a democratic socialist. I wonder what Berg thought about that? I'll close the loop and think about Berg when I cast my primary ballot for Sanders.

Delmer Berg, last Abraham Lincoln Brigade veteran, dies (SF Gate)

Delmer Berg, the last known living veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which vainly fought against fascism’s advance into Spain in the late 1930s, died last Sunday Feb. 28 at his home in Columbia (Tuolumne County). He was 100.

His death was confirmed by Marina Garde, the executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives in New York, who said Mr. Berg was believed to have been the only survivor left of the nearly 3,000 quixotic young Americans who volunteered for the Spanish Civil War in a bloody prelude to World War II. About 800 of those who volunteered were believed to have been killed.

Mr. Berg, an unreconstructed Communist, was a 21-year-old union-card-carrying hotel dishwasher in 1937 when he spotted a billboard for the brigade and, through the Young Communist League, enlisted. After cobbling together bus fare to New York, he boarded the French luxury liner Champlain for France.

“I was a worker,” Mr. Berg told the Modesto Bee in November. “I was a farmer. I was in support of the Spanish working people, and I wanted to go to Spain to help them.”

On watchdog journalism, a crucial and forgotten local concept.


Let's begin the week with a foreign concept. Because ... a boy can dream.

Watchdog journalism (Wikipedia)

Watchdog journalism informs the public about goings-on in institutions and society, especially in circumstances where a significant portion of the public would demand changes in response. This might involve:


  • Fact-checking statements of public officials
  • Interviewing public figures and challenging them with problems or concerns
  • Beat reporting to gather information from meetings members of the public might not otherwise attend, and to observe "on the ground" in broader society
  • Investigative journalism, which involves information-gathering on a single story for a long period of time


Like a literal guard dog that barks when it notices an intruder, a "watchdog" role involves alerting others when a problem is detected. Common subjects are the government decision-making process, illegal activity, immorality, consumer protection issues, and environmental degradation.

Watchdog journalism can be located in a variety of news media, such as radio, television, Internet, and print media where it may be seen as "a unique strength of newspapers",[1] and additional new media and concepts such as weblogs and citizen journalism. Watchdog journalists also are called "watchmen", "agents of social control", or "moral guardians".

Sunday, March 27, 2016

"The idea that people riding bikes don’t pay for the roads is pervasive, and completely untrue."


Because Easter is the perfect sort of day for myth-busting.

The Free Rider Myth – Who Really Pays for the Roads?, by Elly Blue (Momentum Mag)

... The idea that roads are funded by user fees paid by people who drive is one of the great myths that buttresses our entire way of life. While the veneer on that myth has been crumbling for some time, we have only recently been forced to begin to look hard at it. And the difference between riding a bicycle and driving a car is surprisingly vast – but not in the way most of us imagine.

What if I told you that by driving a car you become a freeloader, a drain on the economy? That people who bicycle instead are subsidizing a road system that they are largely not welcome on? In order to break even on the cost of roads and pay for every driver who uses them each year, we would need 54% of commuters using a bicycle as their sole means of transportation.

"Highway engineers dominated the decision-making. They were trained to design without much consideration for how a highway might impact urban fabric."


If we retained the public transportation infrastructure we possessed 100 years ago, Bulldog fans could have taken the train to Indianapolis and back for last night's championship game.

This article makes at least two points that we should never tire of emphasizing.

First, that "gas taxes have never fully paid for highways," even though we insist on believing it's true.

Second, "An unmistakable part of the equation was the federally supported program of 'urban renewal,' in which lower-income urban communities — mostly African-American — were targeted for removal."

That's history, folks.

Highways gutted American cities. So why did they build them? by Joseph Stromberg (Vox)

... So why did cities help build the expressways that would so profoundly decimate them? The answer involves a mix of self-interested industry groups, design choices made by people far away, a lack of municipal foresight, and outright institutional racism.

Ireland and "the ghosts of the Easter Rising."

Many decades ago my cousin the university professor suggested a book called The Uses of the Past, by Herbert Muller.

It proved to be seminal reading for me in the run-up to my 1980s-era travel phase, and while perhaps a bit dated now, the book remains an invaluable rumination about why we should care about history's lessons.

The central conundrum about history is that its uses are so often discarded, leaving only "The Glibness of the Past." Ireland is a fine example of this traipsing through the foggy dew, although we indulge far too often in America, too.

100 years on, the Irish lay to rest the ghosts of the Easter Rising, by Ed Vulliamy (The Guardian)

The 1916 uprising against British rule was a first step to independence, but the violence that followed led to its marginalisation – until now

... But many people agree that the executed leaders of 1916 would turn in their graves at the sight of modern Ireland and this carnival. One could take any line of the Proclamation with which to measure the present, and at this moment some people inevitably do.

Those in the west of the country – whence the Rising really came – who have for a decade been trying to combat a vast gas project by Shell, refer to the proclaimed “right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland”, in a country known for its generosity towards multinational companies. Maura Harrington of the Shell to Sea group talks about “people not having the same awareness of colonisation by the multinationals now as they had 100 years ago of colonisation by the British empire. Different imperium.”

Coogan wonders what 1916’s founding fathers would have thought about “the way the banks have looted this country with the consent and connivance of the political establishment. More people have committed suicide during this period of austerity than were killed during the Troubles. Thousands lose their homes every week, or else remain courtesy of vulture-capital mortgages.”

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Gahan wins state high school championship, will take his coaching talents to the NBA.


Fresh off his state finals win, NAHS mayor and basketball mentor Jeff Gahan announced that he has decided to skip college coaching and move directly to the NBA.

"In this fall, this is very tough, in this fall I'm going to take my talents to the Bay Area and join the Golden State Warriors," said Gahan amid the bedlam as Bud Light Lime corks popped in his suite at the downtown Indianapolis Hampton Inn.

"Steve Kerr has nothing left to prove," said Gahan, "and neither do I."

Asked who'll replace him as mayor, Gahan waved away the question.

"Who said anything about quitting as mayor? I can run the city and coach the Warriors with my eyes closed."

"Duggins can have the Bulldogs until we TIF a new coach."

Editor's note: New Albany really has won the state championship, but the coach is Jim Shannon. Congratulations to the team. 

"My worry is that Democrats like Hillary have been saying, 'The Republicans are worse!' for so long that they've begun to believe it excuses everything."

(4 of 4)

Basketball-laden holiday weekends are death for readership, but this essay is worth your time to read. At this point, they're all "worse."

Why Young People Are Right About Hillary Clinton, by Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone)

... Young people have repudiated the campaign of Hillary Clinton in overwhelming and historic fashion, with Bernie Sanders winning under-30 voters by consistently absurd margins, as high as 80 to 85 percent in many states. He has done less well with young African-American voters, but even there he's seen some gains as time has gone on. And the energy coming from the pre-middle-aged has little to do with an inability to appreciate political reality.

Instead, the millions of young voters that are rejecting Hillary's campaign this year are making a carefully reasoned, even reluctant calculation about the limits of the insider politics both she and her husband have represented.

For young voters, the foundational issues of our age have been the Iraq invasion, the financial crisis, free trade, mass incarceration, domestic surveillance, police brutality, debt and income inequality, among others.

And to one degree or another, the modern Democratic Party, often including Hillary Clinton personally, has been on the wrong side of virtually all of these issues.

"And I think to myself there is no way to explain in a brief interview the power of the 40-year hurt in shaping American society."

(2 of 4)

Basketball-laden holiday weekends are death for readership, but not only is Bruce Springsteen's album The River timeless;it's also prescient.

US election 2016: The 40-year hurt (BBC Magazine)

The London-based American writer and broadcaster Michael Goldfarb is frequently asked on air why this year's US election has turned out to be so unusual, and whether insurgent Republican candidate Donald Trump can really win. He has to give a short answer. The long answer, he argues here, involves going back 40 years.

Bruce Springsteen is coming to London with the River tour. At £170 for the cheapest pair, I can't afford to see the Boss any more, even if my body could handle standing on Wembley Stadium's pitch for three-and-a-half-hours in an early June drizzle.

It's interesting that Springsteen is re-exploring The River album again. Whenever the anger that simmers in America erupts and reminds the rest of the world that the country is troubled, he seems to be the cultural figure whose work offers an explanation.

"For millions of Americans, the dysfunction of our political system may be frightening, but it’s creating a unique reform moment."

(1 of 4)

Basketball-laden holiday weekends are death for readership, but I'd rather think about public participation, ranked-choice voting, Constitutional reform and other structural reforms.


This Is What Political Revolution Really Looks Like, by Wendy R. Weiser, Rob Richie and Sanford Levinson (The Nation)

Without these structural reforms to American democracy, even a progressive presidency couldn’t accomplish much.

The rise of Bernie Sanders, whatever the fate of his campaign, has likely altered the trajectory of progressive politics in the United States for decades to come. He has not only rallied millions of supporters to stand with him, in the words of Michael Harrington, on “the left wing of the possible,” he has significantly expanded the realm of the possible itself. Yet for many on the left even Sanders’s fiery denunciations of a rigged political and economic system fail to account for how profoundly that is the case and how challenging it will be to un-rig it. In this installment of “That’s Debatable,” our continuing series of forums, Wendy Weiser, Rob Richie, and Sanford Levinson argue that deeper structural reforms would be necessary for a “political revolution” to make our federal government more responsive to the people in whose name it governs and whose interests it is supposed to serve.

"Today, by calling yourself a socialist, you signal a break with and critique of an economic and political order that is rigged against you."

(3 of 4)

Basketball-laden holiday weekends are death for readership, but socialists like me can take heart in the possibilities.

The Long March of Bernie’s Army, by Harold Meyerson (The American Prospect)

Where it came from; where it’s headed.

... This is something new under the political sun. At no time in U.S. history have so many Americans supported a socialist presidential candidate, much less called themselves socialists. The apogee of socialists’ electoral performance came in 1912, when Eugene V. Debs won 6 percent of the vote running for president on the Socialist Party ticket. What’s more, the mystery of this socialist emergence is deepened by the fact that there is no visible organization in the United States that is recruiting people to socialism. The Democratic Socialists of America (of which I’m a vice-chair) has just several thousand members, and is almost entirely absent from many American cities. At first glance, this new socialist presence just seems to have sprung up, unsummoned, unannounced.

And yet, it clearly has been building for years. Its emergence was foretold by Occupy Wall Street, and the polls that showed most Americans looked positively upon its message—that the 1 percent has flourished at the expense of the 99 percent—if not on the protesters themselves. It was foretold by the surprising rise to bestseller status of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by the success of the Fight for 15 movement in prompting cities and states to raise the minimum wage, and by two movements (in themselves, non-socialist, but nonetheless radicalizing) of the minority young: the Dreamers, demanding citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and Black Lives Matter, demanding an end to discriminatory criminal justice. More broadly, it was foretold by the rise of a distinct civic left: With millennials and minorities reshaping urban America, 27 of the nation’s 30 largest cities now have Democratic mayors—the greatest urban partisan imbalance in the nation’s history. Many of those cities have enacted groundbreaking progressive legislation—instituting and raising the minimum wage, mandating paid sick days, forbidding their police forces from cooperating with federal immigration authorities, giving collective-bargaining rights to independent contractors.

What’s the substance of the new American socialism?

Friday, March 25, 2016

You have to wonder how things like this affect the bar business downtown.


The ED and the BC chart the arc of the sun as it climbs the New Gahanian sky.



“David, it’s David.”

“Duggins? It’s 4 o’clock in the blessed a.m.”

“Listen, Brewer – just be glad it isn’t the mayor.”

“True that. What’s up?”

“We have a problem. The switch is broken, and Home Depot is closed.”

“What switch? The Random Parks Jobs Generator Switch?”

“No, no. Are you kidding? Parks are the only economic development plan we have. We’re even going to generate a hover board park inside Pillsbury next week. No, I’m talking about the main switch.”

“You mean … ”

“That’s right. The Sunrise Switch.”

“What happened?”

“I dunno; cheap Chinese plastic shit – and to think we paid Coffey $675.85 for it at the auction house, THEN the son-of-a-bitch wigged out and flipped teams, the bastard. Anyway, the switch fell apart overnight.”

“What if the mayor wakes up and he can’t flip the Sunrise Switch?”

“Exactly. You know as well as I do. No switch, and the sun won’t come up today.”

“Jesus. It’s like that Hemingway book, ‘The Sun Also Rises.’”

“Never heard of it. Reading really sucks. Come to think of it, that’s the only thing Zurschmiede got right the entire campaign – never admit to reading.”

“Oh, I didn’t actually read it. Baylor said something about it on his blog.”

“Really? I’ll let Rogar know. I'm sure she'll have something to say.”

---

“What’s the big deal, anyway? I mean, the switch isn’t actually connected to anything. The sun’s going to come up whether Jeff pushes a button or not.”

“Yeah, but the mayor doesn’t know that. Look, you’re the building commissioner. Can’t you go confiscate a light switch from a derelict property somewhere? We can cut a check; no big deal.”

“That would be stealing from the taxpayers.”

“Well, so is TIF, and I didn’t see you objecting to any of that.”

“Calm down. It’s your fault that Jeff thinks he controls the sunrise.”

“Bullshit. How so?”

“You’re the one who showed him that video about North Korea.”

“Wasn’t me. I have no idea what North Korea is. Now, sweet home Sellersburg’s another story. I know all about that – and One Southern Indiana. They always make me feel dreamy.”

“It definitely was you. The link came from NA Confidential, and you showed Gahan the video and said see, this guy’s got nothing on you. I remember it. You told the mayor that plaques were small potatoes, and from now on it was statues only.”

“Whatever. You have to break a few eggs if you want to be deputy mayor.”

“I can’t believe you’re still going on about that. If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a dozen times. Mayors don’t give their sons-in-law cushy jobs just to turn around appoint you deputy mayor.”

“Hmm. Maybe I can be the son he never had. You know, I’m only here because I believe in Jeff Gahan.”

“Uh huh. Like you’re the first one to drink the Kool-Aid. But look, what about that other sun, the one that won’t rise and light the sky unless our boss thinks he made it so by throwing a switch? We need to think outside the box.”

“But didn’t we prohibit that? I’ll ask Adam Disney first thing.”

---

“David, I’ve got it.”

“What have you got, David?”

“Call those architects – you know, the ones who wanted to build a strip mall on Community Park a few years back.”

“Dude, that was cheeky. The county should have nailed that. You mean the firm of Same, Old & Suspect?”

“Right, them. Didn’t one of them just design your dog park?”

“Right. Around the office, we call him The Human Shield. He talks and talks about diplomas, and everyone forgets the political part.”

“Okay. So get him over to Gahan’s place, stat. Stick him on one of those Spring Street dump trucks. They drive like demons.”

“It’s why they call them Fast Track. Got it. Architect on dump truck. Then what?”

“When the mayor wakes up, the architect is right there – we’ll need a news crew, too. Anyone on payroll?

“WHAS backed us really nice on the Native American nutjob thing.”

“That works. Have them there, waiting. When Gahan reaches over to turn on the sun, the architect grabs his hand and stops him.”

“Go on.”

“He says, Mr. Mayor, the Baylorites have booby-trapped the sun. If you touch that switch, you’ll see your shadow, and we’ll have six more years of bad baseball teams in Cincinnati.”

“That’s good. He’ll buy that. But what about the sun? If the sun doesn’t rise in New Albany, I may have to go where it’s warm.”

“I’m getting there. So, the architect tells Jeff: Look, no more switches. You can do it with your head, kinda like voodoo. All you have to do is repeat after me: ‘There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.’”

“Sniffle.”

“Omigod! Duggins, are you crying?”

“It’s so beautiful. The mayor swallows the bait, and voy-logee, no more Sun Switch. We’ll just throw that 700 bucks on the next paving contract. Just one question.”

“Shoot.”

“Which one of us is the Scarecrow?”

"To issue a City "press release" that simply quotes a monopoly service provider about "increased download speeds," without understanding the claim, allows that monopoly continued control over a vital city service."


The Green Mouse has many friends. One of them submitted this commentary after viewing yesterday's mayoral press release:

Internet Speed Increases Coming to New Albany TWC Customers

Nearly a week ago, Time Warner Cable announced that it was offering a six-fold boost in broadband speed to customers in Louisville and Jeffersonville at no cost to its customers. The City of New Albany is very pleased to announce that those same increases will be brought to customers in New Albany at no cost.

“Since as early as 2013, I have pushed for increased internet speeds, and recognize the economic impact that this infrastructure can bring to a community,” stated Mayor Gahan. “We are very happy that Time Warner Cable will be extending this speed increase to New Albany.”

Not that Gahan even once publicly acknowledged as much during the entirety of his 2015 re-election campaign.

As Frank Zappa once said, "Take it away, Bob."

---

Mayor Gahan hasn't done anything to increase internet speeds in New Albany. Time Warner Cable is "increasing internet speeds at no charge" because so many are cutting their cable TV service, opting instead to stream TWC data and video to their computers, watching downloaded movies instead of cable channels.

But the majority of New Albany residents won't see any difference in the "faster speeds". Why? Most folks in New Albany use old modems that aren't capable of using the new data stream rates.

And that's where Time Warner will clean up. In city after city, where Time Warner has rolled out the "TWC Maxx" service that Mayor Gahan mentions, they are charging up to an additional $ 100 - $ 125 per year for the newly necessary modem. That's not faster internet "at no charge."

Even though Time Warner says "there is no change in the price of Time Warner Cable Internet plans, although speeds have increased," New Albany citizens won't see an increase in their cable download speeds without the new TWC modems. Surprise!

And that's where Mayor Gahan is simply missing the overall point about the importance of internet service to the future of New Albany.

As Mayor, he could demand far greater services from the city's monopoly cable provider (Time Warner Cable) when the franchise comes up for renewal. Progressive cities have made TWC provide a host of services for free in order to keep their franchise in those cities.

Philadelphia recently negotiated with Comcast, that city's cable provider. In a series of hearings before the city council, Comcast commited to providing more funding to Philadelphia schools and taking steps to close the digital divide. This makes Philadelphia’s cable franchise a model for other communities across the nation.

The city has an "Internet Essentials" program that includes low-income seniors. Comcast has also committed to providing resources for technology education in Philadelphia schools and to ensuring basic living-wage protections for all its local employees.

Seattle negotiated its existing cable contract to include

• Discounted Internet for low-income seniors
• Increased grant money from $50,000 for one year, to $500,000 over five years, for digital equity programs to bring Internet service to more people
• Laptops for youth at risk of losing their homes

The existing negotiated contract in Seattle already included benefits that Comcast gives the city:

• 600 free Internet connections to nonprofits
• $8 million to support public, education and government channels
• Free cable to government and schools
• Discounted cable TV for low-income households
• Discounted Internet service for families with children who qualify for free or reduced lunch

Seattle's discounted Internet service is $9.95 per month for very basic speeds.

To issue a City "press release" that simply quotes a monopoly service provider about "increased download speeds" without understanding the claim allows that monopoly continued control over a vital city service. The City Council, working with Mayor Gahan could use their power to hold Time Warner's feet to the fire and make them provide more than the bare minimum, but they aren't.

The City "press release" quotes Time Warner: "We will boost Internet speeds for customers up to six times faster, dramatically improve the TV product…"

They aren't talking about helping businesses in New Albany with data streaming. They're talking about consumers of TV and movies. When Mayor Gahan says that he "recognize(s) the economic impact that this infrastructure (?) can bring to a community," he may well be worried.

Businesses large enough to fill the soon empty Pillsbury plant need reliable, high-speed upload data streams. Clark County has fiber optic internet data streaming now. Large corporations will continue to locate where they can better compete and communicate - Clark County.

This press release doesn't claim there will be a significant boost in upload speeds. TWC claims a 400% increase, but 4 MB per second boosted to 12-16 MB per second doesn't put you in the same league as Clarksville and Jeffersonville. To illustrate the point - downloading movies - a New Albany resident needs 10.5 minutes to download a movie with Time Warner but a Clarksville resident needs only 8 seconds to download the same movie using fiber optic internet.

Cable franchise renewal has been used by many cities in America to make a real difference in their residents' quality of life. New Albany's Mayor and the City Council should do the same.



Thursday, March 24, 2016

Scarlet letter? As New Albany hemorrhages jobs, we reveal Team Gahan's economic development argument.


(Reader Submission -- thanks)

The South does it again -- wait, Indiana did it first. No matter: "The NBA Needs to Move the 2017 All-Star Game From Charlotte."

C'mon -- you know Grooms would have voted in favor if he lived in North Carolina.

The real world, from the only sportswriter who matters.

The NBA Needs to Move the 2017 All-Star Game From Charlotte. Now. (By Dave Zirin, The Nation)

... The 2017 NBA All-Star Game is due to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Silver should announce as soon as possible that this game needs to be moved unless the state legislature overturns its new law set to go in effect April 1 “blocking local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules to grant protections to gay and transgender people.”

The law was passed as a direct response to the City of Charlotte for passing an ordinance to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people from being discriminated against by businesses. Outrageously, the North Carolina legislature scheduled an extraordinary special session—the first time they have done so in 35 years—to annul the Charlotte ordinance before it went into effect. It’s remarkable how quickly lawmakers leap to actually do their jobs when the work involves stripping people of their rights. It is also stunning how all of the Dixie paeans to local control and states’ rights go out the window when it comes to issues such as these.

The law also bans students from using restrooms that correlate with their gender identity if it is not what is listed on their birth certificate. “Legislators have gone out of their way to stigmatize and marginalize transgender North Carolinians by pushing ugly and fundamentally untrue stereotypes that are based on fear and ignorance and not supported by the experiences of more than 200 cities with these protections,” Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, said in a statement.

This law empowers businesses across the state to put signs in their windows saying that they reserve the right to deny service to anyone whom they perceive to be part of the LGBT community. Think about that for a second: The law empowers right-wing small-business owners to legally discriminate based on their own “gaydar.”

Under the shadow of this legislation, the NBA really only has one recourse: It needs to move the 2017 All-Star Game and show the world that it is not going to “fall behind” on what is a very elemental issue of human rights and dignity. The NBA Players Association, led by the estimable Michele Roberts, should also call for Adam Silver to take this step.