Thursday, February 02, 2017

Gahan clears space in already bulging campaign finance coffers as his half-ass-two-way-street reform project limps toward the runway.

We will surmise from the evidence that John Boyle is Jerod Clapp's de facto replacement at the News and Tribune, although the reporter might be only a temporary pinch-hitter.

Boyle's page at Facebook shows a hiring date of August 2016 (he's a 2016 IU Southeast graduate), and until mid-January, all his bylines were in sports.

Where Boyle fits in the newspaper's "beat by topic, not geography" scheme is yet to be seen; he's done a fire, a Hobkbob Coffee profile, a school board meeting, and now the rumored Downtown Grid Modernization Project (Mayor Gahan's shameless bastardization of Jeff Speck's Downtown Street Network Proposal.

As such, he extracts an interesting nugget from city engineer Larry Summers, who'll probably face disciplinary action for speaking openly to the media.

Work underway on two-way: Initial phases of Grid Modernization Project begin in New Albany, by John Boyle

... Summers said the city's next step will be repaving Spring, Market, Elm, Pearl, Bank and Vincennes streets. An official date for this portion, however, has yet to be set.

"The paving itself is going to be independent of the federal aid, but we are looking to coordinate the two projects," Summers said. "It's kind of nuanced right now. [The start date] depends on who wins the bid for the federal aid portion of construction."

Summers said that if two separate contractors are selected, the repaved streets will have temporary dividers until the federal aid portion of the grid realignment begins. Bids for the projects will be selected in early March. The entire project is expected to be completed by Sept. 30.

Well, well.

Turns out the paving component wasn't part of the federal 80-20 largess after all -- and remember, annual paving contracts are an easily tapped source of campaign finance kickbacks. For those readers eternally curious as to why MAC seemingly captures every contract ... just follow the envelopes.

Boyle did good. "Nuanced" is the sort of code language John Rosenbarger usually deploys to evade scrutiny, and now we know about a potential timeline crack in the otherwise seamless propaganda narrative.

Meanwhile, Boyle also extracts two quotes from business owners, each bearing an important point. First, hitting the nail on the head with regard to traffic speed:

Gary Humphrey, owner of River City Winery, said he has long been in favor of two-way streets in downtown New Albany.

"I've been in support from day one," Humphrey said. "I prefer anything that slows down traffic. Two-way streets will do that."

Then, the enduring transparency bugaboo.

Leo Lopez, who owns Habana Blues, said that though he is not necessarily against the two-way streets, he has not been pleased with the communication between city officials and businesses in New Albany.

"Every time something is done around here, they don't tell anybody," Lopez said. "We don't know until it's about to happen. A lot of business owners will tell you the same thing."

Team Gahan already has botched what might have been, at least in terms of the Speck plan's magnitude. Mark my words, folks, because they're going to botch significant portions of their own diluted HWC street grid rewrite. This will not owe to engineering incompetence, but rather to political cowardice.

It's who they are ... and what they do -- and don't do.

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