A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.
“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”
-- Sun Tzu, The Art of War
But enough about Team Gahan’s cynical manipulation of David Barksdale -- and the latter's eagerness to be exploited. In the case of the Reisz Elephant, those of us opposing this wasteful boondoggle of the vanities lost the battle, but we may be winning the war.
A Pyrrhic (PEER-ick) victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has also taken a heavy toll that negates any true sense of achievement.
For once, allow me just a moment to give ourselves a pat on the collective back. The broad outlines of an anti-anchor electoral coalition in 2019 increasingly are becoming visible. With each of Gahan’s grandiose and self-referential expenditures, the disgruntlement spreads.
The city’s lofty elites are over-confident, and the governing clique suffers from profound “institutional inbreeding.” The louder Gahan’s boasting becomes, and the greater his posturing, the more threadbare his personality cult’s clothing.
It’s true that Pinocchio Jeff will have pots of money in 2019, but the successful mobilization of Reisz refuseniks convinces me that we’re putting together a solid network for communication and cooperation.
And, to be blunt, during the 47 days that elapsed between the two city council votes on the Reisz Elephant, this blog performed most of the duties of the local “newspaper of record” as they pertain to the critical importance of the Fourth Estate.
The fact of the matter is that democracy requires informed citizens. No governing body can be expected to operate well without knowledge of the issues on which it is to rule, and rule by the people entails that the people should be informed. In a representative democracy, the role of the press is twofold: it both informs citizens and sets up a feedback loop between the government and voters. The press makes the actions of the government known to the public, and voters who disapprove of current trends in policy can take corrective action in the next election. Without the press, the feedback loop is broken and the government is no longer accountable to the people. The press is therefore of the utmost importance in a representative democracy.
To be sure, the Green Mouse and I had lots and lots of help, and thanks are owed to everyone who tipped, tattled and took it upon themselves to spread the word.
Sadly, once again the News and Tribune was AWOL. Of course, immediately after the Reisz Five rammed the mayor’s fix into place, News and Tribune publisher Bill Hansen emerged from the shadows to congratulate himself and the newspaper for being so awesome.
If you aren’t one of those salty newspaper pros of which I write, you won’t get it. You won’t understand that in spite of enduring years of furloughs and low wages, reporters still put their heads down and plow through the muck and the mire to bring you, our readers, information you need — and should want — to know.
If so, then why has the word “Keeneland” been ubiquitous on so many local lips these past few days? It didn’t originate at the N & T, did it? Why were citizens quoting a lowly blog, and not the newspaper? Why were insiders on both sides of the issue sending NA Confidential those e-mails, and not Chris Morris?
Is it time yet for another hard-hitting, "salty" Cooking School?
Just one missed opportunity proves the point. Recalling that a considerable part of Team Gahan’s case to “save” the Reisz building pivoted on the former property owner’s villainy in rendering a presumably valuable historic structure into such a woeful state of “neglect,” “dilapidation” and “blight,” to my knowledge not a single employee of the newspaper ever once asked Schmitt Furniture why it had been a poor steward -- or how it came to be bailed out and rewarded by the city for its refusal to cooperate with the sort of building maintenance codes that might have prevented the decay.
These being codes enforced only variably, anyway. Has the newspaper ever investigated the disappearance of Jeff Gahan’s rental property inspection promise?
In which wing of the down-low bunker is this forgotten vow cowering?
Sadly, the community pillars and the well-connected always get their playthings and golden parachutes, even as poor folks over at the housing authority are threatened with fundamental terror borne of demolitions as fetishized by a C-minus mayor who hasn’t read a book since high school, but fancies himself a Grade-A social engineer.
Jeff Gahan’s $10 million (and rising) Reisz Elephant crusade on behalf of Government Lives Matter is misguided and will be expensive, but it’s also a valuable litmus test preceding next year’s potentially curative elections. The cool kids got their “wants” -- and the rest of us have been gifted with an opportunity to kick the clique to the anchor-festooned curb in 2019.
The momentum is ours. Firing Gahan now rates as a “need.” Let’s get to work.
In the run-up to formal approval of the city hall relocation, a defender of the mayor accused me of “making this situation political.”
I was shocked -- not because a grubby sycophant disagreed with me, but that he’s not even a job holder drawn from the mayor’s family tree or his jamboree of toadies.
What, a $10 million mayoral self-empowerment project, political?
Hmm, ya think so?
If anyone can determine a single aspect of the Reisz Elephant saga that hasn’t been political, let me know and I’ll buy you a beer on opening night at Pints & Union.
Actually every last human being involved with the Reisz Elephant city hall relocation debate has been playing politics non-stop, whether behind closed doors (always Gahan’s default preference, mirroring his agoraphobia and revealing eroded social skills), or openly in the clear light of day, as here at the blog, or during Dan Coffey’s do-it-yourself public meeting, a gathering made necessary precisely because of Team Gahan’s fix-is-in, shadowy reticence.
Hypocrisy aside, it’s all politics, all the time, and what the mayor's jockstrap handlers really are trying to say to us is that politics must be reserved to the anointed politicians; if you have not been elected, appointed or purchased outright, then shut up and get out of the way.
Ignoring the most obvious of retorts -- these paragons of virtue can’t be bothered to read their own American foundational documents -- permit me to counter with my own bill of political rights, which states that every single day, although more imperatively when elected officials and their appointed bootlickers hijack the political process amid a blizzard of campaign donations, then circle the wagons and take politics to the down-low bunker, I reserve the option of using all the tools available to me to pursue alternatives and to encourage dissent.
Among these tools are my pen and word processor; powers of persuasion on the porch chatting with a neighbor; a can of spray paint, appropriate signage, periodic occupation and a march for our lives; and in short, using rhetoric, polemics and whatever it takes to get the point across when privileged insiders hack the decision-making process, and newspapers seek to make us feel good instead of telling the truth.
Sorry Bill. You’re absolutely clueless about New Gahania.
In a pinch, it’s certainly an option to “run” for something (again), but the point is that political expression isn’t reserved to office holders and their milieu.
Speaking personally, I’m more likely to “make a run” to the package store for restorative medicine, despite there being far too few shots and tall boys on the planet to dull the imbecilities of those fawning and obsequious toadies who believe we must look the other way while elected officials of Jeff Gahan’s squalid caliber pillage the commonweal at will.
Verily, January 1, 2019 cannot arrive too soon for me. Have I mentioned Nix the Fix?
During his stand-up routine at city council on June 21, billed as “35 Reasons I’m Better Than You,” municipal bond percentage retirement fund aggregator Shane Gibson -- who reportedly does legal work in his spare time -- twice mentioned the sum of $9 million as representing the amount the city has invested in the Floyd County Jail, and BY GAWD, Emperor Gahan has absolutely no intention of allowing the perfidious Floyd County governmental miscreants to screw us out of what’s rightfully ours.
Shortly thereafter, afforded an audience by one-fifth of the Reisz Five, I listened in amazement as each point I raised about the luxury city hall enthronement project was met by one or the other variations on a theme: “But the COUNTY’S worse.”
Yeah, but what about the COUNTY?
The COUNTY was corrupt first, you know.
How can you say that WHEN THE COUNTY?
It happens that I’ve been a lifelong opponent of merging city and county government, or “Uni-Gov,” as so many refer to it. The first half of my existence was spent in Georgetown and Floyds Knobs, the second half in New Albany, and to this day, I’m quite skeptical about the chances of uniting disparate entities.
However, these days I’m listening carefully to the case for reducing duplication and combining certain functions, and the reason I’m doing so has nothing whatever to do with any ideological consideration apart from the adolescent, all-consuming, evangelical, anti-county fervor of the Gahanites, which is causing me to recall my status as resident of both city and county, and to realize that the spitball wars between governmental entities are annoyingly childish.
I can hear it now: BUT THE COUNTY STARTED IT, ROGER.
My answer: Are you still in kindergarten, councilman?
I’m finding it excruciatingly tedious to listen as ineffectual Democratic council creatures shamelessly alibi for their own rampant political cowardice by crying wolf, all while foaming at the mouth and wildly gesturing toward the Knobs.
They’re clearly sick in the head, and I’d phone for an ambulance, except it isn’t clear whether I’d reach the correct 9-1-1 call center.
New Albany’s DemoDisneyDixiecratic higher-ups are the problem, not the solution – and I suppose now we must toss Barksdale into the dysfunctional mix. He’s chosen to allow himself to be used amid the partisan idiocy, and if I were the Republican chairman, I’d be staging the opening sequence of the television series Branded in broad daylight at Hauss Square.
Today more than ever before, the enemy of our enemy is our friend. If we work together in the common interest of the city during the coming months, the Gahan-tagion can be eliminated in 2019, and while we couldn't stop the Reisz Elephant, the toxic waste clean-up can begin in earnest.
Thanks for reading.
June 28: ON THE AVENUES: Said the spider to the fly -- will you please take a slice of Reisz?
June 21: ON THE AVENUES: Government Lives Matter, so it's $10,000,000 for Gahan's luxury city hall clique enhancement. Happy dumpster diving, peasants!
June 12: ON THE AVENUES: Histrionic preservation? $8.5 million to gift Jeff Gahan with a luxury city hall "want" is simply obscene in a time of societal need.
June 7: ON THE AVENUES: Taco Bell has as much to do with "local business" as Jeff Gahan does with "quality urban design principles."
There was no column on May 31.