Monday, October 31, 2016

A sharrows symbol might as well be the Mark of Blithering Idiot on Jeff Gahan's forehead.

Here's what we know, to date. It's isn't pretty.

1. Mayor Jeff Gahan has spent millions of dollars on park units connected to each other not by walking or bicycling infrastructure, but by roads intended for use solely by cars. These roads require constant upkeep and paving, which in turn provide numerous conduits for campaign finance sluicing, but you already knew this.

2. Whenever "safety" is used as a mantra for street grid change, however fleeting and incremental, it is a dog whistle intended to describe conditions for motorists, not walkers or cyclists, because they're incidental in the grand scheme of beak-wetting.

3. During five years in office, all Gahan has done to guard against the eventuality of toll dodging is implement a grotesquely ballyhooed road diet on Spring between Vincennes and Beharrell, describe it in terms exclusive to automotive "safety", build no bicycle infrastructure whatever between Beharrell and Silver, then draw a few scant sharrow symbols on the pavement and create unprotected bike lanes from Silver to Vincennes, after which they continue ineffectively and still unprotected along high-speed, one-way Spring until petering out downtown.

4. None of these existing bike lanes are connected to any other, or to a park, or to the city's downtown commercial area, or evince any design of being connected to anything, now or in the future. They begin and end nowhere, and not once has a city planner ever revealed a comprehensive design that might convince us otherwise -- when they've bothered to answer questions at all.

5. Insofar as consultant Jeff Speck recommended protected bike lanes throughout the street grid as part of converting one-way streets to two-way traffic, 95% of his recommendations were tossed from the grandiosely tagged "Downtown Grid Modernization Project" in what might be termed as a late-term abortion.

6. While hideous, HWC Engineering's recasting of Speck's downtown street network proposal didn't materialize from the ether. It came at the behest of Gahan and the usual timer-serving suspects among city officials, among them David Duggins, the city's presumed economic development director, whose wife works for HWC, seeing as nepotism is job one with Gahan and not proposals representing genuine progress (see "beak-wetting" above).

7. And, just for the hell of it, if the opportunity presents itself to reduce shade along this botched and unrealized street grid by felling trees, Gahan's stellar team of suburbanites does this first, then insists that in spite of the absence of evidence to the contrary, far more trees are being planted than clear-cut. When we ask for the evidence, we're told that the poor, underfunded Tree Board can only do so much.

Think about the preceding.

Then consider that the very same time-serving paycheck endorsers instituting street grid mayhem as outlined above presently are seated on a steering committee to write a Comprehensive Plan to carry the city forward two whole decades.

To more of the same?

Who are you going to believe, John Rosenbarger or your own two eyes?

Today's photos are courtesy of Bicycle Lobby, on Twitter here.

Recent documentation of conditions in the civic asylum:

WITHIN CITY LIMITS: Episode XII, How Do I Join the New Albany Planning Committee?

The composition of Jeff Gahan's comprehensive plan steering committee guarantees yet another business-as-usual silo, and compels me to vomit.

New Albany's new Comprehensive Plan to be happily midwifed by precisely the same old suspects.

Jeff Speck on HWC Engineering's bicycle-free, two-way streets abortion: "I guess that's what you get when you ask engineers who do not value biking to change a plan."

WITHIN CITY LIMITS: Episode XII, How Do I Join the New Albany Planning Committee?

WITHIN CITY LIMITS: Episode XII, How Do I Join the New Albany Planning Committee?

By Nick Vaughn, Guest Columnist

For those of you who may not know, there is a new planning committee in New Albany tasked with developing a plan for what New Albany can look like in 20 years. Does this sound familiar? It should. When I was running for City Council I created my Vision Outline for New Albany. I dreamt of a land that had renter registration, anti-poverty initiatives, incentives to bring jobs back to New Albany, and a land where unelected boards did not will their power unchecked by elected officials. So, if I have a plan, how do I join this planning committee?

Does it surprise anyone, though? Not a single average, everyday New Albanian is represented on this new committee let alone a young person who might actually have a vested interest in steering the city in a direction that will allow young people to flourish. It is important for prominent New Albany businesses to be represented on this committee and I guess some outside businesses as well, however, it makes zero sense as to why there is no true resident representation on this committee. This is especially ironic because the 20 year plan will affect those who reside and own a home or rent here in New Albany most likely before it affects a business or commercial property owner.

Unsurprisingly, the means in which this committee was chosen is completely in the dark and kept away from the people of New Albany who have a right to know who will be making a 20 year plan for their city. Of course, this non-transparency just fits the narrative of the Gahan Administration as well as a go-along-to-get-along, Democratic Majority City Council. How were these people chosen? Who chose them? Why were they chosen? Why does the City Council have no oversight? Is the City Council going to be represented? In my experience, a committee or government entity that has more questions asked about it than can be answered is a committee or government entity that I don’t want representing my interests.

The largest question, though, might be how much power does this committee have over the people of New Albany? None of the members, to my knowledge, have been voted into their position by the people, the City Council did not confirm these committee members, so does this committee even hold any meaningful power?

Before anything else, this committee needs to appoint some citizens, young, old, and in between. If they do not I cannot see how they can possibly be able to effectively steer the community in a direction that will benefit the citizens. As of right now, the only benefit that could come from this committee would be more crony capitalism propagated by City Hall where unelected bureaucrats pick the winners and losers of the New Albany economy. That is not what New Albany needs, we need a citizen-oriented committee who will create a 20 year plan of not only economic prosperity but also community change where someone isn’t afraid to let their kids play in their front yard and where a near quarter of the population can’t afford to make ends meet.

Furthermore, this committee, since it is creating a plan for the future, should have young adult members. Young people are the future of New Albany and whether we can retain them or not will prove to be the crucial task for our community over the next 10 years. Young people don’t just want a place to play, they want a place to live and potentially raise a family. New Albany, unfortunately, only offers a playground for the upper middle to upper class people with money to spend. We do not currently have an effective climate for the up-and-coming young entrepreneur or young lawyer, etc.

If we do not get some young people on this committee then our 20 year plan will be for nothing. We will continue to lose young professionals to Indianapolis, Jeffersonville, and Louisville and continue to have a city seen as a playground by some but a socioeconomically segregated city by those not predisposed to success by means of birth. This is a sad truth that doesn't have to be.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

"The town is broke because there’s a structural gap between revenue and expenses due to a suburban land use pattern that can never pay for its own obligations or maintenance."

From the article.

What is a talisman?

1. a stone, ring, or other object, engraved with figures or characters supposed to possess occult powers and worn as an amulet or charm.

2. any amulet or charm.

3. anything whose presence exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings or actions.

That guy trying to cross the stroad (above) is a talisman of sorts, though most drivers wouldn't give him a second thought, at least until the point of impact.

The Talisman of Colerain, by Johnny Sanphillippo (Strong Towns)

As perhaps the world’s most lapsed Catholic I still instantly recognized this rusty bit of iron for what it is. It’s a relic. A talisman. It’s a distant cousin three times removed from a splinter from the Cross or a tiny fragment from a Saint’s robe. It’s meant to have special healing powers that will bring health and prosperity to the town. It’s a shield to protect the innocent and vanquish evil. All you have to do is believe and its blessings will be revealed. I’ll get back to that in a moment. But first, there’s that other image ...

The talismanic influence of certain objects can reflect the surroundings.

The town is broke because there’s a structural gap between revenue and expenses due to a suburban land use pattern that can never pay for its own obligations or maintenance. The memorial park is sitting in a sea of low-value surface parking lots, empty buildings, and buildings that are only occupied because they were bribed into existence with subsidies and tax abatements to keep up appearances. Meanwhile millions of dollars worth of public infrastructure sit underutilized.

And the verdict isn't pleasant (bold type mine).

I doubt the good people of Colerain are interested in transforming their old parking lots and dead strip malls into a thick Main Street downtown full of mixed-use buildings with shops on the ground floor and offices and apartments upstairs. I don’t think they’d even know how to build that sort of thing if they tried. They’re too obsessed with parking ratios and flower beds that look like the prosperous suburbs they no longer are. I’m not even sure there’s even a market for that kind of thing in this location. So I see continued decline and more desperate attempts at resurrection by pure faith. So be it.

But remember, kiddies -- we've got hospital sale money to make it all right.

Sicilian symbolism: "The Trinacria: History and Mythology."

Such a symbol would interest me even if I didn't live in a city that now must abide with an anchor as its woeful metaphor.

Here's a bit about the food in Catania, where we'll be soon, licking wounds and drinking wine after the conclusion to America's stupidest ever election: What to Eat in Sicily.

Back to the symbol ...

The Trinacria: History and Mythology, by Ninni Radicini

The symbol of the Hellenic nature of Sicily

The symbol of Trinacria is now known because in the flag of Sicily and that of the Isle of Man. Its history is complex and in some ways still shrouded in mystery, or at least in indeterminacy, as it relates to mythology. The Trinacria, symbol of Sicily, is composed of the head of the Gorgon, whose hair is entwined serpents with ears of corn, from which radiate the three legs bent at the knee. The Gorgon is a mythological figure who, according to the Greek poet Hesiod (VIII - early VII century B.C.), was each of the three daughters of Ceto and Phorcys, two gods of the sea: Medusa (the Gorgon for excellence), Stheno ("strong"), Euryale ("the large").

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Keith Henderson wants to be the hanging judge, though "former prosecutor" sounds better to us.

Lest we forget ...

Matt Oakley's assessment of the prosecutor's ethical breakdown doesn't stop with Keith Henderson.

Granted, it isn't as though we weren't aware of Henderson's many and varied abuses as prosecutor, and (Mark) Seabrook's role in ignoring them -- as these posts from 2013 attest.

Ready for the punchline?

In an age of excuses for reckless behaviors, I will continue to hold adult offenders accountable.

Prosecutor, hang thyself.

Why are you running for this position? (Courier-Journal)

I will bring much-needed energy and efficiency to the position of Circuit Court Judge. My philosophy has always been very clear. In an age of excuses for reckless behaviors, I will continue to hold adult offenders accountable, protect the innocent and support the family. After prosecuting nearly 30,000 criminal cases and handling thousands of child support cases, I have unique experience and strengths which will enable me to bring accountability and fairness to this position. I will use my extensive experience as an Indiana State Police officer, General Council for City of New Albany and nearly 19 years as a prosecuting attorney in the office of Circuit Court Judge.

The composition of Jeff Gahan's comprehensive plan steering committee guarantees yet another business-as-usual silo, and compels me to vomit.

The gang that can't shoot (or think) straight now seeks to institutionalize the incomprehension so that future generations of New Albanians can suffer just as readily as we are.

Mighty nice of them. The plaques probably are being stamped as we retch.

New Albany's new Comprehensive Plan to be happily midwifed by precisely the same old suspects.

And you think I'm kidding when I refer to this asylum as New Gahania?

The C-J's Madeleine Winer has updated her story to include comprehensive plan steering committee members, and here they are.

Members of the New Albany Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee

►Matt Chalfant, developer & owner of Chalfant Industries

►Wendy Dant Chesser, director of One Southern Indiana

►Corey Hughes, developer & real estate manager with Hughes Group

►Bill Wisehart, Director of Facilities for New Albany-Floyd County Schools

►Bob Norwood, New Albany Plan Commission President

►David Duggins, New Albany Director of Economic Development

►Ed Snelling, President of New Albany Elks Lodge #270

►Irving Joshua, New Albany Redevelopment Commission President

►John Rosenbarger, New Albany Public Facilities Director

►Larry Summers, New Albany City Engineer

►Paul Kiger, Realtor

►Rich Robinson, Develop New Albany

►Shane Gibson, Attorney for the City of New Albany

Two or three decent eggs, but not a single truly independent voice. It's the usual pay-to-play suspects and insider "economic development" yes-men. Think of it as a road map for partisan political payola from now until doomsday

Our friend Stephen adds this precise analysis:

It strikes me as odd, inappropriate, disappointing, insulting, thoughtless and more that a committee appointed to work on a comprehensive plan for the City of New Albany includes individuals who do not live in the city. At least one resides in another county. Impacts on this city's future need to be made by city residents. If they can't live here, they have no business "representing" those of us who do.

Jeff Gahan is remaking New Albany according to his "vision," and this should scare you far worse than Donald versus Hillary.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Brick lamp pedestals removed from Veterans' Plaza because Irv's "safe" drivers keep hitting them.

The topic is New Albany's Veterans' Plaza. First, a few photos illustrating progress and regress.



After (October, 2016):

The wide spot in Market Street between 10th and 11th, where New Albany's Veterans' Plaza is positioned, once held the smaller of the city's two public markets. The larger one was downtown on Market between State and Pearl. At some point it became the city's memorial to veterans, on an island in a one-way street.

Floyd County Honor Roll & Veterans Memorial

Our Veterans' Plaza was refurbished beginning in 2005, as explained by Chris Morris at the (then) Tribune.

Since the brick lamp pedestals were installed on the 10th Street side of the plaza, circa 2005, I've lost track of how many times they've been damaged by drivers navigating automobiles along a one-way street described as "safe" by the likes of Irv Stumler.

Give Veterans Plaza a break: Two way streets now ... no study necessary (November 14, 2013)

Self-inflicted dementia aside, apparently the decision has been taken recently to pack it in and remove them. As of last week, they were gone.


They're why we can't have nice things.

"The Smiths were only around for five years in the mid-eighties, but to this day the sentiment their music evokes is strong."

From 2016:

Meat Is Murder: Morrissey at The Palace, 09/20/2016.

Check out the set list, and join me in appreciating a man who genuinely merits the description of icon. It was money very well spent for us.

From 2013:

Johnny Marr.

The Smiths and anti-Thatcherism are so closely intertwined that even this Hoosier hick knows about it. On the other hand, I imagine few of today's know-nothing Republicans remember Maggie, anyway. They were too busy drooling over the staged blather of a trained actor, Ronnie Raygun.

And also from 2013,the video:

Not Like Any Other Love: The Smiths (The Culture Show on BBC2; May, 2013)

It's 30 years since Manchester four-piece The Smiths changed the face of British pop with their debut single Hand In Glove. In this half-hour Culture Show special, fellow Mancunian and lifelong fan Tim Samuels sets out to find out why The Smiths have such a special place in the hearts of a generation of Brits. The Smiths were only around for five years in the mid-eighties, but to this day the sentiment their music evokes is strong. Samuels pays visits to a variety of dedicated fans including fashion designer Wayne Hemingway, poet Simon Armitage, Labour MP Kerry McCarthy and Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher to analyse the look, the lyrics, the issues and the riffs that made The Smiths Britain's first, and arguably best ever, indie rock band.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

New Albany's new Comprehensive Plan to be happily midwifed by precisely the same old suspects.

I don't enjoy being the deliverer of Halloween nightmares.

Wait a minute -- yes I do.

New Albany drafting new city plan, by Madeleine Winer (Courier-Journal)

New Albany is asking for input on what its next 20 years of development will look like.

The city has started drafting a new comprehensive plan, which plots what improvements in transportation, housing, infrastructure and overall quality of life it would like to make over the next two decades. So far, the city worked with an engineering and development firm to create a rough draft of the plan and has hosted stakeholder and focus group meetings, said city spokesman Mike Hall.

“The comprehensive plan is a guiding tool and reference that we can use to help move New Albany forward for years to come," said Mayor Jeff Gahan in a statement. "By working together, we can ensure that we make New Albany the best city it can be for all of us, and we can work towards making our shared vision a reality."

Leading the plan's formation is a 13-person steering committee, consisting mainly of city officials, developers and redevelopment representatives. Engineering firms Bean Longest and Neff and HWC Engineers, both based out of Indianapolis, were hired to draft the plan. Both firms have also been hired to work on other city projects including converting some its one-way streets to two-way roads and the Mt. Tabor road restoration project.

Maybe this part will help you feel better.

Wendy Dant Chessler, steering committee member and president and CEO of One Southern Indiana, said her role on the committee is to think about what businesses' needs will be in the future and what development areas the city can help with. One Southern Indiana is the Chamber of Commerce for Clark and Floyd Counties with a good portion of its members with businesses in New Albany, she said.

"It gives us a clearer picture of what the community wants," she said, "and we figure out from there who to market it to to get those types of companies."

She said a big part of the plan is its zoning, which will determine what types of development can be built in certain areas of the city.

Apart from One Southern Indiana's familiar role as hen house fox with open palms, there's a familiar scorecard to update.

HWC Engineering: Gutted the Speck two-way plan ... remains the employer of the economic development director's wife ... now charged with writing a new comprehensive plan derived from the boilerplate input of the same old suspects.

And you think I'm kidding when I refer to this asylum as New Gahania?

Truth is stranger than fact as Mayor Gahan presents souvenir anchor seal bag to "tree" subsequently arrested for blocking traffic in Portland.

I doctored the photo. Sorry about that.

If it's really the case, and "one man's bit of performance art is everybody else's misdemeanor," then which one's the transgressor -- fake tree or faux progressive?

And when it comes to "natural choreography," it simply doesn't get much better than the gift of an anchor bag.

'Tree' arrested for blocking traffic in Portland, by Doug Criss (CNN)

Police arrested a tree Monday in Portland, Maine, for blocking traffic.

Ok, it wasn't really a tree, CNN affiliate WGME reported. It was a man dressed as a tree.

The tree, or um, man who was arrested said he stood in the middle of a downtown intersection as a kind of performance art. Asher Woodworth wanted to see how he could impact "people's natural choreography."
If by that he meant to get a lot of people to take pictures and videos of him, he succeeded.

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

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

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

This essay is revised somewhat from its original publication on the occasion of the blog's 10th birthday in 2014. Much has happened since then. I ran for mayor, my NABC career has ended and the Cubs are in the World Series. Through it all, one question remains: New Albany is a state of mind … but whose? Paving slush funds wax and wane, and we continue to observe the contemporary scene in this slowly awakening old river town, because if it's true that a pre-digital stopped clock is right twice a day, when will New Albany learn to tell time?


Last Saturday (October 22) marked the 12th anniversary of NA Confidential.

As usual, I pondered the possibility of a party in celebration of making it another year without my being institutionalized, but there’s no pressing reason for a gathering. We need only gather at the pub of our choice for commemorative elixirs (Progressive Pints remain my drink of record, though fewer than before) and call it good.

Twelve years is a long time. Admittedly, I’ve been guilty of fudging when making the claim that the blog's conception was a direct result of massive personal despair in the wake of George W. Bush’s re-election; obviously, the actual NAC birth date in October preceded Election Day in 2004.

However, in retrospect it is perfectly accurate to suggest that the grim promise of four more wasted White House years merely exacerbated the development of an epiphany already budding. In 2016, what will November 8 bring? Given the coming civil war, this time it might require more than a blog to cope.

During the years 2003 and 2004, several previously disparate threads gradually were coming together in my life. The most significant factor was my own renewal. My first marriage was over, and a wonderful new relationship under way.

We felt sure enough about our combined future prospects to begin shopping for a house, and in 2003 came the purchase of a home located on Spring Street, in what is now occasionally referenced as Midtown. Halloween 2016 marks 13 years of living there.

Verily: Trick or treat?

If we’d only grasped these nuances of civic foreshadowing.


Even before the ink was dry on our bouncing baby debt, I'd experienced dozens of walks and bicycle rides through the deserted wastes of a criminally neglected downtown, with a huge question eventually looming over all of it: Why was New Albany’s devastated former business district downtown different from those vibrant quarters I’d visited in other states and nations?

Was the decay avoidable? Could it be these people in other places knew something we didn’t? If so, why weren’t we emulating it? Was it money, politics, culture … or something in the water?

The questions mounted, and easy answers seemed frustratingly elusive. I didn't fully understand at the time the extent to which my ground was shifting. Thoughts previously devoted to escapist obsessions (generally, variants of beer and travel) began turning elsewhere, toward a vague context of rootedness.

Surely, something could be done, right there in the city's core.

NABC already was brewing on the north side, but it was only a small facet of the “good beer bar” business model. It began to occur to me that the answers to these questions of everyday life in one’s place of residence impacted this model. As a brewery, perhaps NABC was transitioning toward a fuller embrace of local existence. Might brewing make sense as the ultimate, local, creative act – in fact, what we should have been aspiring to achieve from the start?

This emerging epiphany was about place, and one’s place in it. As the presidential election year of 2004 advanced toward the pathetic re-enthronement of the worst American chief executive ever, an absurdity began gnawing at me.

Most of us spend vast chunks of our lives living in a specific place, but spend much of our time debating issues far beyond it. Granted, being aware of the world outside remained absolutely vital, and I wasn’t about to renounce my planetary citizenship, but when it came to action, as opposed to verbiage, what chance did I have of influencing the tragedy of a second Bush administration?

To devote precious psychic energy debating these faraway issues left none to apply to matters nearest me, when these were precisely the sort of local conditions best addressed through direct participation. How to make things better right here, outside the doors of my home and business?

The comparative odds were 1 in 300 million, or 1 in 37,000. Which would you choose?


At this juncture, a deeply personal proclivity came into play, because what I decided to do first was write about it. After all, everyone is entitled to my opinion, although some might say that writing and action aren’t the same things at all. I disagree. Ideas, words and how we use them do matter.

Quite early in my life, it was obvious that being able to arrange words on a page was essential to my being. I don't know why. It just is. Through most of my adult life, I have awakened to a jumble of thoughts centering on topics for the day, along with thoughts on how this jumble might be untangled and organized. They must be written, as soon as possible, in order to expel the current crop of thoughts and make room for others.

I suppose it’s a compulsion of sorts. Music always plays in my head, alongside sentences forming there. I'm convinced that when these idiosyncratic synapses cease to occur – or when math and numbers finally start to make sense to me – death will be imminent.

Concurrently, what better way to facilitate these needs in 2004 than electronic media? It required no start-up money. I could write locally, and disseminate globally. And so it has gone, from then until now. It builds character, and makes me a better gadfly.

On the occasion of this column, NAC's 10,683rd post, thanks to Jeff Gillenwater, Randy Smith and the late Lloyd Wimp for their credited contributions over the past nine years, and to all the green mice, guest columnists, moles, agitators and malcontents who help our ideas to gestate. Thanks to my wife for tolerating my writing and cage-rattling compulsions. Thanks especially to you, the reader.

Special thanks to the late, great Howard Zinn for demonstrating the fundamental veracity of a people's history, and the critical need for it, because while this blog is as imperfect as its originator, the intent all along has been to provide New Albany's “other” side.

Doing so has required a learning curve, but I'm damned proud of the results, and I think we've helped provide a body of work and an alternative record, while offering more ideas per square pixel than New Albany’s local political power structures and non-local media combined. Disney does fantasy just fine. I prefer the real world.

Has any of it really mattered? It's a question others must answer. I'm too close to the beating heart to tell. Personally, I think NAC is ridiculously underrated, particularly by local "media" outlets, but of course this doesn't matter all that much. It's their loss, and that's life.

Because: Somewhere, it's beer-thirty.


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).

September 29: ON THE AVENUES 3-PK, PART THREE: Survey says … Irv’s street grid agitprop won’t be putting Diogenes out of work any time soon.

Randy Smith for NA-FC School Board: "I think it's important to remember that the superintendent works for the school board and not the other way around."

Thousands of Floyd Countians already have voted, and as with the News and Tribune, the Courier-Journal has belatedly released candidate information.

Couldn't these newspapers go to work a bit earlier, and provide information to the public before voting begins?

Floyd County School Board candidates | Election 2016, by Kirsten Clark (Courier-Journal)

The presidential election isn't the only important race on the ballot. There are nine candidates vying for seats on the New Albany-Floyd County School Board, which evaluates the superintendent, oversees the school district's budget and has the final say in issues of district policy and facility decisions.

Take a look at who's running, and be sure to vote on Nov. 8.

Having already endorsed Randy Smith for the at-large slot on the school board, I'm under no obligation to be fair to the other candidates. Here is Randy's bio and answers, as submitted to the C-J.


Randy Smith

Age: 60

Occupation: Bookseller

Education: Bachelor of Science with high honors in public administration, graduate study in law

Family: Wife, Ann Baumgartle

Reason for running: I hope to take NAFC schools to the next level by building a community consensus around public education and the importance of investing in our students. Great schools are made by great teachers, and it is important to show them the respect needed to make their jobs fulfilling.

Biggest issue facing constituency: Two issues present themselves: 1) Teacher recruitment and retention, and 2) restoring trust in the school administration. A lack of transparency and accountability have created a lack of trust which hampers progress. I think it's important to remember that the superintendent works for the school board and not the other way around.

The NAFC administration has falsely presented this referendum as if it is our only choice. For that reason, I do not expect it will be approved by the voters. I don't believe there is even a Plan B, which makes this do-over referendum incredibly risky. The next school board will need to be prepared to address the most serious concerns facing the district. Dr. Hibbard's solution actually puts limits on what we can do to strengthen the vitally important instruction mission, offering only a construction alternative. I will be voting "no."

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Indiana Public Access Counselor.

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

But why all these newfangled words?

Why not the old, familiar, comforting words, like the ones you're sure to hear when asking the city's corporate attorney why the answers to my FOIA/public records request for Bicentennial commission finances, due to be handed over on July 8, still haven't arrived on October 26?

Bicentennial commission financial trail? What's two (yawn) weeks (shrug) after 463 days?

October 26 update: Make that 16 weeks since the FOIA record request's due date and 560 days since I asked Bullet Bob Caesar to tell us how many coffee table books were left unsold, and how much the city's 200-year "summer of love" fest actually cost us. 

No, it's because a healthy vocabulary isn't about intimidation through erudition. Rather, it's about selecting the right word and using it correctly, whatever one's pay grade or station in life.

Even these very same iniquitous, paving-bond-slush-engorged municipal corporate attorneys who customarily are handsomely remunerated to suppress information can benefit from this enlightening expansion of personal horizons, and really, as we contemplate what they knew and when they knew it, all we have left is plenty of time -- and the opportunity to learn something, if we're so inclined.

Consequently, today's word is a phrase: Indiana Public Access Counselor.

Mission Statement

The Public Access Counselor provides advice and assistance concerning Indiana's public access laws to members of the public and government officials and their employees.


A copy of my original request for information from the city of New Albany:

Roger A. Baylor
NA Confidential
1117 East Spring Street
New Albany, Indiana 47150

10 June 2016

Shane Gibson
Corporate Attorney
City of New Albany, Indiana
Hauss Square
New Albany, Indiana 47150

Dear Mr. Gibson:

Under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act § 5-14-3-1 et seq., I am requesting an opportunity to obtain copies of public records that pertain to the financial dealings of the Bicentennial Commission, the creation and operation of which is detailed in New Albany’s code of ordinances (33.165; attached).

The period being requested encompasses the Bicentennial Commission’s inception through the present time.

Details should include all bids, contracts and expenditures for Bicentennial Commission activities, prime among them the process through with the Bicentennial book (“Historic New Albany, Indiana: By the River’s Edge,” by James Crutchfield) was contracted, published and sold, and the status of the Redevelopment Commission’s loan to make publication of this volume possible.

As part of this request, I am requesting to know the current status of inventory with regard to these books. If books remain unsold, how many remain, and where are they stored? Also, when a Bicentennial book is given away at a public ceremony, who paid for it? These invoices are to be considered part of this request.

As part of this request, I am further requesting copies of the official e-mail correspondence between Robert Caesar and other members of the Bicentennial Commission pertaining to these plans and transactions.

I would also like to request a waiver of all fees in that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest and will contribute significantly to the public’s understanding of what it cost to honor the city’s Bicentennial, and how these decisions were made, under the aegis of a free press (NA Confidential blog). My request is strictly for news gathering purposes and is not being sought for commercial purposes.

The Indiana Access to Public Records Act requires a response time within seven business days. If access to the records I am requesting will take longer than seven days, please contact me with information about when I might expect copies of the requested records.

If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law.

Thank you for considering my request.


Roger A. Baylor
1117 E. Spring St.
New Albany IN 47150

The city's corporate attorney has been informed of PAC's receipt of my complaint, and PAC promises a decision by December 5.

I'll keep you informed. Have they laundered all the paving stone books yet?

Jeff Speck on HWC Engineering's bicycle-free, two-way streets abortion: "I guess that's what you get when you ask engineers who do not value biking to change a plan."

The photo above was tweeted yesterday by Jeff Speck, and shows the protected bike lanes being installed according to his recommendation in Cedar Rapids.

When Speck made his proposals for New Albany, a bike lane protected in this way was his standard template for a biking network he envisioned cohabiting the current one-way street grid following its conversion to two-way traffic.

Here is Speck's tweet about Cedar Rapids.

Noting that between the efforts of Team Gahan and HWC Engineering, roughly 95% of Speck's recommended bicycling infrastructure improvements has been removed from our heroically under-performing "bare minimum" Option B, I replied to Speck's tweet -- and he went straight to the heart of the matter in response.

Damned if he didn't "like" it.

Option B is an inept compromise, and we must put the debit where the debit's due, with Mayor Jeff Gahan himself.

Neither Gahan nor his illustrious crew of hee-hawing suburbanites has ever understood the future significance of bicycling, and as I predicted all along, Jeff Speck's 21st-century grid plan was run through New Albany's 19th-century sausage grinder and stripped of most aspects (biking and design) that might have served as two-way mobility multipliers in years to come.

Yes, we're going back to two-way streets as they were, not forward to two-way streets as they might be. For anyone who ever spent five minutes with Gahan, this should come as no surprise.

For a glitzy park system, no expenditure is too great for Gahan's TIF fetish, but for transformative transportation, we mustn't ever transform too much, and the Potemkin plan we devise, more surface show than real, must be calibrated for available federal financing, with its familiar sluices for widespread beak-wetting. We can find millions for an indoor practice field, but can't spend an additional penny on getting streets right.

It's amazing what inferior education and electoral ambition can do to stunt one's cognitive ability, and whatever we get from HWC Engineering comes equipped with the usual campaign finance siphons, and so as such, what's Gahan running for next?

If it's any office beyond dogcatcher, I'd think twice.

See the sweet new public doughnut art at NA's classic Honey Creme Donuts.

Honey Creme Donuts (514 Vincennes Street in New Albany).

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ASK THE BORED: With this amazing new invention, you can stripe your own parking spaces!

This week we'll learn how one of these can help when it comes to DYI projects. First, a refresher course.

New Albany's Board of Public Works and Safety exists because the State of Indiana says so.

Board of public works and safety; establishment
Sec. 5. (a) A board of public works and safety is established in
each city.
(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), the legislative body of a
second class city may by ordinance establish as separate boards:
(1) a board of public works; and
(2) a board of public safety;
to perform the functions of the board of public works and safety.
As added by Acts 1980, P.L.212, SEC.3.

As for what the board is supposed to do, you can visit the American Legal Publishing site, search "Board of Public Works and Safety," and sift through various powers accorded the board over the decades by dint of ordinance.

Exactly how much power does our Board of Public Works and Safety possess?

If Jeff Gahan were to stray from the protection of his Down Low Bunker and comment, no doubt he would assert that the board has just the power it needs. He handpicked it, and he's perfectly content to see his program implemented by non-elected boards, as opposed to elected officials.

According to Dan Coffey, the answer is "too much." At the city council meeting back on June 6, Coffey proposed that our council, as a body made up of elected members, should take back authority ceded to non-elected boards. The Board of Public Works and Safety may be established by state, not city, and it may be appointed by mayor, not council, but the board's powers appear to derive from the legislative body.

I mention all this as prelude to this week's installment of ASK THE BORED, wherein we analyze BOW's accumulated record as arbiter of myriad conditions that impact the lives of citizens, as recorded at 10:00 a.m. meetings each Tuesday morning, when John Q. Public is at work.

Last week, it was revealed that if the city has put as much thought into Breakwater parking as it did the water park, we're in for yet another purely dysfunctional treat.

It would appear that Dr. Sisk decided not to "wait and see."

By the way, are those one-way bricks, or two-way bricks?

Just in time for winter, city opens Fairview Run, a new polar splash park.

Actually the street cleaning was being performed by those rat bastards at Indiana-American Water, but who's counting when it comes to quality-of-life recreational enhancements?

Check out this freshly paved overflow parking lot for residents of The Break Wind Lofts at Duggins Flats.

(satire alert)

With handy 24-hour legal services for those Break Wind residents injured while crossing Spring Street to reach their assigned spaces in the AT&T lot.

Actually the lot pictured at the top is reserved for clients of the Smith Brothers law firm. To repeat: Do not park there unless you're hiring a mouthpiece.

Then there's this:

The impending grandeur of breaking wind (or, All About The Breakwater).

Proof that thousands vote prior to the local newspaper so much as beginning its local election coverage.

Chris Morris handily downplays the independent candidates in his business-as-usual preview of the race for District 3 Floyd County Commissioner, but the point lies elsewhere.

Given the advent of early voting, the News and Tribune surely must move coverage of local campaigns forward, as well as its General Election Voters Guide, so that they'll appear before ballots are cast.

When we raised this issue previously, the then-editor tepidly ho-hummed it with an excuse about deadlines. However, compelling evidence exists, as stated by Floyd County Clerk Christy Eurton at last week's Board of Public Works and Safety meeting (October 18).

That's right: At least 4,000 votes were cast before the newspaper began its local election coverage with the release of the Voters Guide after Eurton's words to BOW. If I were an an advertiser, I'd be concerned.

Perhaps Hanson could tie the election coverage debut to a cooking class ...

On being a woman in Iceland.

Not an Aunt Tammy here ... photo credit: The Nation.

Rewinding to a time when it had been only 30 years since the Cubs played in the World Series:

... What made Iceland’s day of protest on 24 October 1975 so effective was the number of women who participated. It was not just the impact of 25,000 women – which, at the time, was a fifth of the female population – that gathered on the streets of Reykjavik, but the 90% of Iceland’s female population who went on all-out professional and domestic strike. Teachers, nurses, office workers, housewives put down tools and didn’t go to work, provide childcare or even cook in their kitchens. All to prove how indispensable they were.


Why Iceland is the best place in the world to be a woman, by Noreena Hertz (The Guardian)

Since 1975, the Nordic country has blazed the trail in gender equality and now, from infancy to maternity, women and girls enjoy a progressive lifestyle. But how did they achieve it?

Rebekka is so tiny that, even on her tiptoes, arms aloft, she cannot reach. So her teacher lifts her up to the unvarnished wooden monkey bar. “One, two, three,” her classmates count. She hangs on, determinedly. When she reaches 10, she jumps to the ground. “I am strong,” she shouts proudly.

It’s an ordinary morning for this single-sex class of three-year-olds at Laufásborg nursery school in Reykjavik. No dolls or cup-cake decorating on the lesson plan here. Instead, as Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir, the school’s founder, tells me: “We are training [our girls] to use their voice. We are training them in physical strength. We are training them in courage.”

It’s a fascinating approach to education. And a popular one. In a country of only 330,000 people, there are 19 such primary and nursery schools, empowering girls from an early age.

Revolution in Colour documentary "charts the entire course of Irish independence from Home Rule to Civil War."

The news story is overly breathless in the telling, but clicking though yields the trailer, and while there is something almost criminal about colorization in the sense of the process altering history, to our eyes it also indisputably makes history come alive.

What about before photography?

I can't help you there.

A new 90-minute documentary will tell the complete story of the Irish Revolution for the first time in colour, by The Irish Revolution

Exclusive to British Pathé TV and narrated by Allen Leech, of Downton Abbey fame, “Revolution in Colour” has been more than 80 years in the making by the world-famous newsreel archive, British Pathé.

The epic feature-length documentary charts the entire course of Irish independence from Home Rule to Civil War

The project had been quashed by the Irish government when it was first attempted in 1935 (British Pathé’s film reels were even confiscated) but now finally sees the light of day as the result of a major collaboration between the Pathe archive and Zampano Productions, the acclaimed producers of Seven Women, TK Whitaker – Seirbhíseach an Stáit and The People’s Tenor.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Upper Spring work continues as drivers somehow manage to pay attention in spite of their boiling anger.

Not that we don't have comments and questions -- like speculating about the next round of driver complaints?

"WTF? Those are Floyd Central's colors."

More importantly, what's with all the wasted space? Maybe Irv can plant some native grasses there.

A sharrow? Here? Is there any single facet of road design that even approaches a sharrow in terms of Rosenbargerite laziness?

It's a road diet, folks.

Marx revisited: "We invented our social arrangements; we can alter them when they are working against us. There are no gods out there to strike us dead if we do."


A long read, but worth the time. Gotta keep those Republicans guessing, natch.

KARL MARX, YESTERDAY AND TODAY: The nineteenth-century philosopher’s ideas may help us to understand the economic and political inequality of our time, by Louis Menand (The New Yorker)

... Marx was a humanist. He believed that we are beings who transform the world around us in order to produce objects for the benefit of all. That is our essence as a species. A system that transforms this activity into “labor” that is bought and used to aggrandize others is an obstacle to the full realization of our humanity. Capitalism is fated to self-destruct, just as all previous economic systems have self-destructed. The working-class revolution will lead to the final stage of history: communism, which, Marx wrote, “is the solution to the riddle of history and knows itself as this solution.”

"Traveling Through Transylvania With 'Dracula' as a Guide."

The author and his book; from the article.

Next summer it will have been twenty years since my first and only visit to Romania, which comprised two days in Bucharest and a week in the region called Transylvania. An entire day was spent exploring Sighisoara.

I headed further north to the ancient medieval city of Sighisoara, and the home of Vlad the Impaler. Sighisoara is one of the few intact walled citadels left in Europe. Climbing the steep cobbled streets and entering the city gates is like stepping back in time to the 1600s. Indeed, so much of Sighisoara has remained untouched that its whole historic center was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

That's an accurate description. Among the attractions in Sighisoara is the house where Vlad Tepes (The Impaler) was born. What I remember most vividly about it was the public bar, where one could drink beer with the ghosts of the House of Draculesti. The writer Spencer finds it is still open for business.

Traveling Through Transylvania With 'Dracula' as a Guide: Is it possible to use Bram Stoker's 1897 novel to explore Romania? by Luke Spencer (Atlas Obscura)

Nighttime in Transylvania is as atmospherically spooky as you would hope it would be. During the winter, a thick, low-lying mist covers thick forests of pine trees and firs. Above the fog, you can see the silhouetted turrets and spires of ancient castles and fortified churches. Many of the old homes there still burn wood fires, adding to the smoky air, while the towns are filled with gothic and baroque buildings that were once beautiful, but are now marked by peeling paint and crumbling facades.

It is common at night to hear howling in the forests, either from stray dogs or wolves. It’s easy to see why Bram Stoker chose this part of Romania to be a setting for his most chilling creation, Dracula.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Same referendum, same arguments. Same outcome?

Returning to a point we made last spring: Given the advent of early voting, the News and Tribune must move up the release of articles like this, as well as its General Election Voters Guide, so that they'll appear before ballots are cast.

On the other hand, the referendum is the perfect example of emotions outweighing logic. I suppose it doesn't matter, does it?

SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: New Albany-Floyd County Schools try another referendum, by Jerod Clapp (News and Tribune)

FLOYD COUNTY — Taking a second shot at securing funding for upgrades and rebuilt schools, the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. has an $87 million referendum on the ballot for Nov. 8.

In May of 2015, the measure failed in the primary, with the vote spread at 45 percent in support and 55 percent against it. Taking some lessons from the failure and regrouping, the district aims to win next month, but an opposition group still raises concerns about keeping taxes at the same level and whether the scope is too great on the projects.

In just more than two weeks, voters will decide whether to take an overall property tax decrease or to allow the district to issue the bonds to renovate or rebuild schools, but both sides argued their points.

The impending grandeur of breaking wind (or, All About The Breakwater).

The Break Wind Lofts at Duggins Flats, sometimes referred to by those enamored of literalism as The Breakwater, soon will be leasing.

More on that in a moment.

First, echoing a question asked on social media, there's the question of parking. Are there sufficient spaces on the old Coyle block for the number of cars we'd expect to belong to Americans residing in 190 units?

Almost certainly not, although I can't find the answer to this question (please direct me if you know), although very early on, the city began referring to parking arrangements with AT&T just across the street, and this likely is a tacit admission of parking inadequacy within the confines of The Break Wind itself.

In turn, it's recognition that non-automotive millennials with bicycles, not cars, actually won't be able to afford living in these apartments, but let's ignore that and consider what it means to offer overflow parking across Spring Street when there is no semblance of a crosswalk mentality, now or in any two-way future -- hence, the photo above, and another view here.

Of course, the dynamic renderings already posit a two-way future -- if not a crosswalk. Recall that City Hall denies ever discussing the street grid with the builder, Flaherty Collins, a representative of which confirmed such talks when asked by a citizen.

The view from 4th and Spring:

These renderings also take a highly stylized view of downtown Louisville's proximity to one-way Nawbany.

Talk about plate tectonics -- Louisville has shifted overnight, and residents of The Break Wind will almost be able to reach out and touch the Yum! Center.

I went to The Breakwater web page to see if the parking question is answered there, and it is:

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiuts smod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua."

Just look at these amenities, this time in English:

"Resort-Style Heated pool, Cabanas, Outdoor Kitchen w/ Grilling Stations, Fire Pit, Pet Spa, Dog Run, Smart Package Room, Bike Room w/ Storage and Repair Tools, Courtyard w/ Pool Deck, Outdoor Movie Screen and Fitness Club."

But what about rental prices? For this, we must visit Craigslist (thanks to T) and dodge exclamation marks.

New Albany Indiana, just outside of Louisville Kentucky, now has BRAND NEW LUXURY apartment homes for rent!

The Breakwater is a brand new luxury community that offers studio, one, and two bedroom apartments for rent in downtown New Albany, IN.

As you step into your apartment home, you will enjoy 9 foot ceilings, 42" kitchen cabinets, granite counter-tops, hard wood floors, full size washer and dryer, stainless steel appliances, and blinds.

Our residents will enjoy upscale, resort style amenities, including a heated salt water swimming pool with cabanas, outdoor movie screen, bike storage, pet wash room, fitness studio, dog walk, club room, and an outdoor kitchen with grilling stations and a fire pit. Attached and Unattached garages are available to rent also! The Breakwater is just minutes from shopping, dining, entertainment, and provides easy access to the freeway. Take advantage of the upscale amenities available to you at The Breakwater today!

We have the following floor plans available:

* Studio - 517 sq to 622 sq - $705 to $830
* One bedroom - 769 sq - 912 sq - $910 to $1190
* One bedroom with a Den - 1148 sq - $1195 to $1215
* Two bedroom/Two Bath - 1180 sq to 1204 sq - $1495 to $1670

Call now to pre-lease your new apartment home today, we are filling up fast!

I suppose this means the Bocce Ball court didn't make the cut.


Just imagine what these units would cost had the city not waived sewer tap-in fees ...