Friday, April 29, 2005

Remembering Jim Creech

A former boss of mine died a few weeks ago, and things were so hectic at the time that I neglected his passing.

Jim Creech was only 55 years old at the time of his death. He was the owner of the old Scoreboard Liquors, which was part of the dumpy commercial building otherwise famous for housing Cadillac Lanes. The store faced the Federal Building, and when I first began working nights there, the Floyd County Probation Department was located upstairs.

(Last fall, I profiled several of the colorful people from the package store.)

Jim had a daytime sales job and did very well, and the liquor store was supposed to be some means of tax modification with a few bucks on the side, but it seemed to function more often as Jim’s personal playpen.

Jim wasn’t a management guru, and didn’t pretend to be. He failed to keep close enough tabs on some of the people he trusted, but what the hell; it’s more fun to be one of the lads, mischievous, unrepentant and engagingly adolescent, and safe in the knowledge that whatever’s gone wrong today almost certainly will be forgotten in a few years’ time … if not tomorrow.

I don’t know for sure, but perhaps Jim always knew that he would be one of those people who’d have to live quite a lot in far too short a time.

Around the age of 40, he began grappling with painful kidney ailments that eventually led to a transplant, and he recovered the ebullient zest for life that was his defining feature. Although I hadn’t seen him for a couple of years, there’s no doubt in my mind that he exited on terms strictly his own.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Ordinance enforcement is a cornerstone for economic development, and here's why

At 7:30 p.m. this evening, the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association meets at its usual Muir Manor venue (corner of E. Spring and E. 13th streets).

It is expected that proposed revisions of the city's recent ordinance enforcement measure will be discussed at this meeting.

If you're just tuning in, many city residents question whether the current enforcement mechanism is being enabled with success in mind, or merely as a means of mollifying the city's neighborhood groups, who have made enforcement a priority.

Some may ask: Why is this so important?

Along with many others, NA Confidential believes that a clean, attractive city is more than just window dressing.

Rather, such aesthetic attributes, as mandated by fair and sustainable ordinance enforcement, represent a symbolic transformation in civic attitude and are unquestionably the very starting points for any and all efforts to improve both the quality of life in New Albany and the city's prospects for future economic development.

After all, what happens if you decide to sell your home?

Essentially, selling one’s home is a process that incorporates a series of rational decisions, each designed to reach a goal.

First, you make the decision to sell, make plans for where you’ll be living next, and begin to take factors into account so as to determine the possible resale value of the home.

You pursue goal-oriented strategies to present this information to interested buyers, perhaps taking care to direct information towards specific parties based on the home’s location, acreage, physical condition, and many other tangible and intangible considerations.

To get the maximum return for your home, you make sure it’s in good shape, and at the very least, clean and possessing an attractive appearance. You mow the grass, tidy up the lawn, repair the gutters and make minor repairs, all in the reasonable expectation that the cost of your efforts will be returned to you with interest when the home is purchased.

At the same time, whether your home is in the city, in a suburban subdivision or located in the countryside, you know that the final selling price will be determined at least in part to factors outside your immediate control, i.e., the condition of the surroundings.

If located adjacent to the gravel quarry, the finest home in the county will be sold for what amounts to a discount.

Which is to say, we all have a stake in our neighborhoods, and of course this stake extends beyond the simple resale value of the homes we inhabit, to the pride of achievement on the part of the individual, to the quality of life for all the individuals who make up the fabric of the community, and to the recognition that without at least a modicum of teamwork, the neighborhood is prone to erosion, neglect and an ongoing abdication of responsibility.

It follows that in the admittedly imperfect realm of human nature, and in our specific instance the city of New Albany, rules, codes and ordinances have been enacted, deriving legitimacy from the general consent of the governed, and these comprise the fundamental framework without which anarchy would be the order of each day.

For too many years, New Albany’s elected officials have taken a passive position with respect to ordinance enforcement. Coupled with other regressive tendencies, many of them politically motivated, this ultimately inexcusable passivity has engendered a city that suffers visibly from degradation, which in turn has contributed to a culture of selective (at best) accountability in the civic realm.

Although the ever-present “no progress at any price” lobby denies it, the year is now 2005, and New Albany is at an important crossroads. Plainly, continued acceptance of the status quo is little more than misplaced pride in backwardness, while the path forward into the 21st century demands skills that have sadly atrophied during decades of political underachievement and pandering to base instincts in exchange for power.

In the collective sense, these skills must be relearned if New Albany is to succeed in the rapidly evolving economic marketplace … and if you have a job interview, it’s always a good idea to start by looking your best.

Love it or hate it, but the economic reality of America and the world is based on mobility, both of businesses and or workers. If the city of New Albany wishes to progress toward the goal of improving its economy and creating the type of economic opportunity that increases wealth and raises the standard of living for the community, it must proceed from a firm organizational footing, develop the necessary infrastructure (something that is not entirely the domain of the public sector!) and sell itself to the type of workers whose presence will help attract the type of businesses that will help revitalize the city.

With the largest and most vital share of sewer work now completed, the single best and most cost-effective way to begin establishing this structural foundation for future success is to put into place an ordinance enforcement mechanism with genuine teeth, for the simple reason that it is ludicrous to imagine the city of New Albany marketing itself to the world in its current filthy condition.

As you would do with your home, you should do for your city.

Assuming, of course, that you're not an absentee slum lord.

Ordinance enforcement must be written, funded and administered to succeed. It should be considered in the same realm as law enforcement. It should be taken as far away as humanly possible from partisan political interference, as the temptation for ward-heeling politicos to thwart the community good for the sake of their own votes should not be overlooked, as it is both real and highly likely.

Sustainable ordinance enforcement is the most reasonable and fundamentally sound first step that can be made toward the goal of revitalizing New Albany’s self-image and enabling the city to succeed in a competitive economic marketplace.

Like selling your home, it is a process that incorporates a series of rational decisions, each designed to facilitate an ultimate goal.

And the longer we wait to start, the harder (and longer) it’s going to be.

Speak Out Loud NA: A new blog "for all to use as a soapbox"

The following note from Laura (East Ender) Oates first appeared this morning in the NA Confidential comments section and deserves a marquee posting. There is nothing but good to be derived from a multiplicity of outlets for discussion and expression as we all seek to advance the idea that New Albany is "worth it."

"FYI: Regarding the opportunity for other Blog Spots to be created and used for the sharing of ideas and multiple opinions to be heard, rather than just being 'a soapbox for the original author,' I have created a blog for all to use as a soapbox.

Speak Out Loud NA:
This blog was created as a format for Neighborhood Associations in New Albany Indiana to exchange information, ideas, and openly express their views and opinions, about life in the city and the current state of our governmental administration that directly affects the quality of life here.

"I do expect intelligent and thoughtful postings and will not entertain the whims or rantings of unreasonable or unrelated issues.

"However, I feel there is a need for a place where everyone who is concerned with the condition of New Albany to have their concerns, questions, or problems aired in a public forum.

"With this Blog Spot, hopefully we can unite to solve common problems, help to solve individual problems, and generally support one another in earnest efforts to make New Albany a better place to call home.

"Until our City administration is able to get down to the business of addressing neighborhood issues, we will have to take on these tasks ourselves in the best way we can.

"So, have at folks. It is the people's soapbox."

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Businessmen, preservationists and debunkers: Goodman and Holliday visit the Floyd County Historical Society

The Floyd County Historical Society met Tuesday evening in the Elsa Strassweg Auditorium of the New Albany Floyd County Public Library, with guest speakers Steve Goodman and Carl Holliday providing a brief history of the Culbertson Widow’s Home on Main Street.

Steve’s and Carl’s latest project, the renovation of the former Redmen’s Club into Culbertson West, was discussed previously in NA Confidential.

Longtime Scribner history teacher Vic Meginnity introduced Steve and Carl, averring that the duo must be considered the foremost historical preservationists currently active in New Albany, and his assessment undoubtedly is true.

Steve’s presentation belied his insistence that he isn’t much of a public speaker, and he clearly outlined the life and times of merchant and philanthropist William S. Culbertson, whose endowment and hands-on management of the home for Civil War widows, orphans and the aged paid continual dividends until the home’s closure in 1971.

We came away form the meeting with heightened respect for the vision and achievements of Steve and Carl, who helped to give Main Street a profound makeover in less than a decade.

Their success, both artistically and commercially, refutes the various hoary maxims that still constitute conventional “wisdom” in New Albany, such as “that’ll never work in this town,” and “you can’t do that here.”

Yes, it will … and yes, you can … but just imagine how much more successful all such progressive endeavors might be if not for the absolutely inexplicable fact that the doomsayers almost always are natives of long standing!

Newcomers to New Albany invariably arrive here filled with optimism and see endless possibilities, while our own residents, filled with self-loathing and ennui, are dismissive, choosing instead to demand “no progress at any price” as though proposed improvements in the quality of life were personal affronts to their dignity.

They hitch their pathological fear of change to any number of expedient bandwagons, some populist, some religious, and others selfish to the point of self-aggrandizement – and it is the latter, so often displayed in public forums, that is so embarrassing when contrasted to the efforts of those working so diligently to prevent New Albany from sinking into a cesspool of low expectations.

Imagine a pair of experienced, savvy entrepreneurs who rescue a venerable but sadly neglected historical structure, transforming a den of iniquity into a respectable, income-producing entity that helps to improve the quality of the neighborhood as a whole.

Imagine neighbors complaining about this feel-good story, as was the case as Steve and Carl have rehabilitated the Box Tree Inn, their second bed & breakfast on Main Street … and contemplate the self-flagellation, the thinly-veiled envy, the rampant inferiority complex that lies at the heart of so much of New Albany’s “no progress at any price” obstructionism, which opposes any and all legitimate manifestations of progress out of no more coherent philosophy than sheer, unadulterated spite.

Steve Goodman and Carl Holliday continue to demonstrate that it is possible to rise above this self-inflicted communal miasma, to achieve results, and to create value through vision, creativity and hard work. Rather than suffer misplaced vilification from the "it can't be done here" faction, they are to be commended ... and just as obviously, we need more like them if New Albany is to enjoy a renaissance.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

UPDATED: To Tim Deatrick: "Plagiarism is using others’ ideas and words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information."

Note: Tim Deatrick's published comment yesterday, which included the essay that he implied was his own and failed in any matter to attribute to Ben Sherman, its real author (and is referenced here) has been removed by Tim -- as is allowed by

Readers are advised that NA Confidential preferred the comment to remain posted throughout the week to illustrate the obvious plagiarism therein, and that Tim has chosen to expunge it today constitutes an action that speaks fairly loudly for itself.

By the way, the title sentence was copied from this Indiana University web site page.

Housekeeping is a distasteful task, and if it is left untended over time, the filth becomes such that extreme measures are warranted, but at least dust and dirt are inanimate objects, incapable of instruction, and impervious to conscience.

We expect more of human beings, and as a result, sometimes we’re disappointed.

As regular readers of NA Confidential are aware, comments are allowed, encouraged and appreciated. Those wishing to make comments need only register with

Time and again, we have reminded readers that the stated purpose of NA Confidential is to provide a soapbox for the author, not to serve as a discussion forum in the sense of Clean Up New Albany, which we recommend wholeheartedly as a site that lends itself far better to the give and take of the genre.

As Randy “Volunteer Hoosier” Smith and others have noted, there is ample room for any number of Blogs and forums devoted to life and times in New Albany.

Several Internet services, including, will host a blog and even help prospective bloggers build it … free of charge. In this manner, any and all can participate, and at a level of comfort commensurate with ability, opportunity and desire.

However, these freedoms of speech and expression are utterly meaningless if unaccompanied by at least a semblance of conscience and an explicit recognition of responsibility, i.e., one cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater.

Even on the Internet!

In short, there are rules to this game, and these rules are to be observed – not because such rules discourage dissent, or are used to ridicule those who are less capable of expressing themselves in writing, or are meant to protect the good old boys, but because without these rules, civilized discourse descends into anarchy ... and sometimes worse.

Yesterday afternoon, reader Tim Deatrick took advantage of NA Confidential’s previously published question to “Taxpayer” to post, as a comment, a lengthy essay on the Lewis and Clark expedition and the subsequent decimation of Native American culture.

In and of itself, Tim’s decision to rudely interrupt the conversation between NA Confidential and “Taxpayer” with a posting on an entirely unrelated topic was a breach of all prevailing notions of etiquette.

And nothing new, at that, but Tim closed his Lewis and Clark essay by writing, “my name is Tim Deatrick, but you can call me Dances with Wolves. The truth will be known!”

Thanks to Volunteer Hoosier’s diligence, the truth indeed has become known: The essay was written by a Native American activist named Ben Sherman, not Tim Deatrick, and nowhere in Tim’s comment yesterday was this fact noted, the obvious intent being to take credit for the words of another.

Truth is, that’s plagiarism.

Truth is, plagiarism is plainly intolerable.

Truth is, plagiarism so casually perpetrated by a free-lancer whose byline appears in the New Albany Tribune is downright frightening (accordingly, the newspaper's editor and publisher have been informed).

With respect to NA Confidential, these are not the first instances of anti-social behavior on Tim’s part. Earlier this year, Tim posted comments under multiple identities – all registered with Blogger, but fictitious and anonymous, and generally used to post personal attacks on members of the community.

Sadly, the list of Tim’s abuses drags on and on, and those of us determined to live in a civil society and to observe the etiquette of civilized discourse are left to debate the question of how we react to those equally determined to impede such principles as we hold dear.

We cannot “ban” Tim and others of his ilk from posting comments on NA Confidential without penalizing those readers who exercise the privilege responsibly, or without requiring the author to devote time to collecting, editing and republishing comments from readers (as mentioned by Volunteer Hoosier).

The parade of assumed identities would no doubt resume, and the unmistakable pattern of serial harassment would merely be transferred from one venue to the next with no effort made to address the underlying causes of his lamentably public dysfunction.

Rather, we once again encourage Tim that it’s time to save some cardboard boxes, gather up his belongings, move out of the NA Confidential house and get a Blog address of his own, where he may break whatever rules he wishes, stalk the public officials of his choice, and plagiarize the work of others to his heart’s content.

And be judged as a writer -- and a person -- accordingly.

Note: After much reflection, we've decided to leave Tim's plagiarized passage undisturbed until the end of the week, so as to allow time for NA Confidential readers to examine it and reach their own conclusions. If Tim decides to expunge the comment, it will be indicated as having been removed by the author.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

TAXPAYER, this one's for you -- please read

The following is a response to comments made below a previous posting. To read these comments, go here and find two almost identical entries by TAXPAYER.

Taxpayer, it is obvious that you are very angry, but try to understand that when you post in all capital letters, our readers judge you to be screaming ... and this is no way to have a civil discussion, is it?

Furthermore, you come to us wearing a mask. You make pointed accusations and freely assault the character of politicians, but you do so anonymously, and not only is this childish, it is quite frankly cowardly. Doesn't it seem only fair that since you know who I am, that I know who you are, too?

More to the point, are you in favor of progress, or regress in New Albany? I'd like to hear your answer, and you can e-mail me privately if you do not wish to post.

Readers, although all your comments are welcomed and appreciated, NA Confidential was not designed to be a forum for discussion in the same sense as Clean Up New Albany, which I recommend you visit and use.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Flatulence Over Louisville: This homegrown recipe for fascistic fundamentalism will be a sure hit at your Derby party

"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church."
~ Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

Louisville’s annual exaltation of phantom male potency, otherwise known as Thunder Over Louisville, will bring a half-million people to the banks of the Ohio today in orgiastic expectation of a raised middle finger of an air show and an unspeakably garish fireworks extravaganza that will allow them to forget – if only for a brief span of time – that there’s a NASCAR race under way in Phoenix.

But the real show comes tomorrow, when “Theocratic Sunday,” a Christian fundamentalist celebration of anti-pluralism, takes place at Louisville’s Highview Baptist Church.

Thousands of “Left Behind” junkies nationwide are expected to be watching the satellite broadcast, which should be more effective than a dozen Doug Hawkinses to position the country's 16th-largest city as a bastion of antebellum ignorance.

Yes, it’s been a bad week for Louisville.

First there was Tom Jurich, U of L’s athletic director, who looked in the mirror and mistook himself for Mayor, and accordingly threatened to continue holding his breath until a new multi-purpose arena is built in the backyard of the university’s choosing.

Then, it was revealed that the home of Yum! Brands corporate headquarters has one of the nation’s most pathetic rates of fast food addiction to go along with high smoking counts, rampant obesity, more pancake makeup than the Ziegfield Follies and the serial consumption of too much Lite beer.

Now, to complete this stunning trifecta of reactionary backwardness – and just in time for Derby – comes Six Flags Over Jesus, complete with a videotaped appearance by the U.S. Senate’s Ayatollah Frist and detailed instructions as to how, with just a bit of cutting and pasting here and there, our Constitution can be rewritten to ensure that America’s Christian extremism is just as threatening as Iran’s Muslim variety.

In fact, "Injustice Sunday" promises to be so far out in right field that even some fellow Baptists are alarmed by such a brazen assault on church-state separation and plan to protest.

Somehow, this is display of conscience is mildly encouraging, although there's precious little in this saga of theocratic intolerance to inspire optimism that America might soon join the ranks of civilization when it comes to the proper spheres of government and religion.

Such is the prevalence of hubris and the absence of an appreciation for history's lessons hereabouts ... but damn, Billy Bob, jus' look at the perty airplains fixin' ta bomb the godless ragheads -- hey, howzabout another Laaht beer?

Friday, April 22, 2005

This just in: Council's Coffey announces Anschluss with city's 3rd District, appoints Price as property manager, announces "drainage in our time"

During last evening’s City Council meeting, as council members (lamentably minus the absent Mark Seabrook) and a citizen speaker discussed aspects of New Albany’s lean city budget, Dan “Wizard of Westside” Coffey, could remain silent no longer.

In retrospect, that he had said nothing for half an hour was an ominous sign.

Abruptly at 8:02 p.m., Coffey jauntily announced his contempt for the principles of teamwork, piously intoning that he hadn’t bothered attending Tuesday’s city budget work session because unidentified officials refuse to let him have “all the pieces to the puzzle.”

Not that he wouldn’t find them on his own, mind you, and of course he will manage to do so, against all the odds …

You could almost hear the public toilet keys jangling in Coffey’s pocket.

As is customary, Coffey’s bravura performance satisfied all the requirements of his favored brand of reactionary retro chic: Ward heeler, demagogue, and populist savior of the downtrodden suffering at the hands of the (fill in the blank) conspiracy.

Coffey’s council persona is calculated to baffle and intimidate his less experienced legislative brethren, and to play to the folks in Coffey’s home district, who after all is said and done must remain somehow “oppressed” if the Wizard is to retain a viable political pulse.

However, as was convincingly demonstrated in the recent Democratic leadership contest when his bid for party secretary was crushed, Coffey’s citywide appeal is considerably less universal than the adoration within his fiefdom.

Unfortunately for Coffey, this situation is a serious impediment to the aspirations of a small-time neighborhood politico who craves power not because he is capable of offering the slightest glimpse as to the future direction of the city of New Albany, or can truly grasp the Freudian nature of recurring drainage obsessions, but because he seeks to perpetuate each and every discredited local stereotype by sticking it to the uppity book readers, the snotty degree holders, the pie-in-the-sky progressives, and most importantly, those people from all walks of life who are too preoccupied with their lives to pay sufficient attention to the political theater that is Dan Coffey.

Accordingly, to wreak his preferred style of self-aggrandizing havoc outside the boundaries of the 1st District, Coffey needs strategic allies on the council. And, in the time-honored fashion, such allies need not agree on every individual point just so long as they unite on shared central issues, which in the case of the current City Council is that espoused by the faction inhabited by Coffey, which opposes virtually every activity undertaken by City Hall and the person of Mayor James Garner.

Now, in light of NA Confidential’s earlier harsh words about the Mayor’s performance, it is crucially important to understand that experience invariably enhances perception.

It has become obvious that the council “Gang of Four’s” factional opposition to Mayor Garner is predicated on root principles of anti-progressivism that extend far past the incumbent’s record – good, bad or indifferent.

These principles are regressive and reactive in nature, and they are dedicated to the preservation of a dissolving and failed status quo that lacks vision and vitality, and that offers no means whatsoever of nurture or assistance as we contemplate the task of carrying the city into the coming decades.

Replace the current mayor with John F. Kennedy, Mahatma Gandhi or Charlemagne, and the response would be exactly the same.

Yes, the administration of Mayor Garner is flawed, gaffe-ridden and buffeted by fiscal circumstance … and yet possesses a sole and irreplaceable cardinal virtue compared with the Coffey Cabals of our city, in the sense that it harbors at least a willingness to acknowledge the realm of ideas, to consider the demands of the future and to entertain notions of change.

Imperfection in pursuit of progress is better than nothing at all, and nothing at all is precisely what is being offered as the alternative by the “no progress at any price” lobby … and since the absence of progress is, in fact, regress, this brings us to the 3rd council district’s current lack of coherent representation.

This leadership vacuum is proudly occupied by 3rd District councilperson Steve Price, who continues his emergence as Dan Coffey’s most active and fawning sycophant, regularly quoting Coffey during council meetings (“we’ve got to stop the bleeding”) and seemingly unable (or more likely, unwilling) to grasp that Coffey’s vituperative political worldview is designed to bludgeon the very district Price willfully neglects to represent.

(Since Price is so fond of off-the-cuff references to Nazism, NA Confidential will offer its own historical parallel: In the paragraph above, substitute the word “collaborationist” for “sycophant” and see what happens.)

Strong sentiments? Yes, and justified.

“Sometimes it seems that we cram people into too small an area,” said Price last evening in expressing opposition to a controversial plan for patio homes off Kenzig Road.

Undoubtedly true, but Price has yet to be heard applying the same logic to multi-unit apartments crammed into older homes owned by residents of Daytona Beach, a phenomenon sadly common in Price’s own district, but an issue perhaps not worthy of Price’s attention because if might differ with the Coffeyist prerequisite of appeasing slum lords to debase the pretentiousness of the pointy-heads.

The ones in Price’s district, that is.

Last evening, ready to cast his vote on A-05-14 (an additional appropriation) and eager as ever to be seen aligning himself with the voices of regression, Price offered this odd explanation:

“Someone out in the hall told me there might be legal matters, so I have to vote no.”

Out in the hall?

Is this “no” vote more or less bizarre given that Price himself is the one who proposed the ordinance in the first place?

The Tribune’s Amany Ali and the Courier-Journal’s Ben Zion Hershberg both attended last evening’s city council meeting, and offer polar opposite accounts:

Courier-Journal (limited shelf life on C-J links)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Publisher Carl Esposito leaving Tribune and Evening News for a new job

NA Confidential has learned that Carl Esposito, publisher of the Jeffersonville Evening News and the New Albany Tribune (both owned by Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. of Birmingham, Alabama) is leaving his post at the end of April. He'll be taking a new position in Virginia.

During a wide-ranging conversation with NAC just last week, Mr. Esposito gave no indication that he was leaving the area, although he did express satisfaction with the Tribune's and Evening News's new publishing schedules and indicated that he hoped there would be the chance to tackle issues pertaining to content at the Tribune, agreeing that the New Albany newspaper was mistaken in not following the issue of Indiana legislative efforts to impound riverboat casino revenue.

We wish Mr. Esposito the best of luck in his new job.

New Albany's City Council meets tonight, but first, an evening on the hustings

Last evening at dusk we were strolling down East Market Street, and passed Hugh E. Bir’s Café.

The door to the bar was wide open, and the highly amplified sounds of karaoke cascaded across the street and collided with the tight hiss of a garden hose being used to wash down an engine block in one of a half-dozen autos in various states of disrepair, all parked in the in the side yard of a weather-beaten house.

“Hello Dolleeee,” croaked an elderly chainsaw of a voice.

“It's serrrrneestahavooorightbockwhrrryoubelonnne,” bellowed the besotted, Lite-soaked entertainer, as somewhere riverfront coordinator Bob Trinkle’s infallible instincts for white bread quivered eagerly at the prospect of another namesake Dome booking guaranteed to cure insomnia.

We hurried along to the east … and found that a full three blocks away, the savage musical beating continued with no apparent improvement in morale.

Fortunately, a brace of motorcycles topped by hairy men in identical cute black costumes came roaring past, and the whiskey-barrel voice disappeared along with every other springtime sound as their engines revved the sweet melody of mechanized tumescence.

But we’re not here to count lost votes – it’s time again for an evening's worth of governance.

As it is traditionally announced, “The Common Council of the civil city of New Albany, Indiana, will hold a regular council meeting in the third floor assembly room of the City/County Building on Thursday, April 21 2005, AT 7:30 P.M.”

Earlier this week, some members of the elected body met for a work session, a prime topic of which was New Albany’s budget. Read about the April 19 work session here: New Albany budget woes may grow; official says 2006 forecast not good, by Ben Zion Hershberg of the Courier-Journal (limited shelf life on C-J links).

Volunteer Hoosier provides this commentary on the Tuesday work session and the city’s budget woes: Wake Me Up, Before You Go Go.

Incidentally, staying abreast of City Council proceedings just got much easier, thanks to the hard work of Marcey Wisman, City Clerk of New Albany.

Marcey seems determined to drag an analog municipal apparatus into the digital age in spite of the desperate protests of New Albany's barbecued bologna lobby, and consequently the complete minutes of City Council meetings from January 2004 through March 2005 are now archived at a spanking new web site: City Council minutes.

Council agendas also are posted, with April 4 being the most recent.

You can read about Marcey’s new site,, in the New Albany Tribune: City clerk hopes new Web site opens up city government, by Amany Ali, Tribune City Editor.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Discussion of effective code enforcement to occur at ESSNA meeting on April 28; Constituency for Progress currently studying strategies

Yesterday in a comment in NA Confidential, Greg asked: “How do we get ordinance enforcement that is built to succeed, not fail?”

NAC thanks Randy Smith (
Volunteer Hoosier), who provides this response on behalf of New Albany’s Constituency for Progress:

The newly born Constituency for Progress has analyzed the recent City Council move to create and fund an ordinance enforcement officer and does not believe it will be at all effective.

In fact, we believe that the mechanism created is either so timid or so corrupt that it was never intended to be effective; rather, it was intended to placate groups such as the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association with a half-measure that would get us to shut up and go away.

Without casting blame, we believe a better solution exists. Our proposal will include procedures and a working document or draft ordinance to create an effective codes enforcement office that will accomplish the goals ESSNA seeks.

Furthermore, after much research and questioning of relevant officials, we believe that this plan will in fact generate enough revenue to fund itself and will not require appropriations from the general fund.

Members of the CFP will present their ideas during the latter part of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association meeting on Thursday, April 28, in the hope that ESSNA will join us and endorse this bold, but achievable goal. If we fail, we still have the ordinance as it stands.

But if we succeed, the city will truly begin its renaissance.

Randy provides further information on the ESSNA meeting:

The ESSNA’s meeting on the 28th takes place at Muir Manor (corner of E. 13th and E. Spring), and includes a talk on civic activism by author and attorney J. Bruce Miller.

Miller’s book, “Airball: The Complete and Unvarnished Account of Louisville's 30-year Odyssey to Acquire an NBA Franchise” was discussed previously in NA Confidential.

He will discuss how to work with city officials and how to identify the big dreamers from the small thinkers. His talk will not be about basketball, the NBA, or metropolitan arenas so much as it will be a summary of the lesson learned in trying to move a city and state government to accomplish a desired goal.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

There can be no progress without ordinance enforcement that is built to succeed

(Note) For more on this topic, see these articles:
NA Confidential: The time is now for New Albany's Constituency for Progress
Volunteer Hoosier: A Constituency for Progress

For many decades, the city of New Albany has enacted ordinances against filth, squalor, and the sort of nasty habits that bad neighbors flout with scant regard for the opinions of their fellow men, and yet for most of us, one of the highest goals in life is the maintenance of a civilized society, not for the benefit of some, but for the furtherance of all.

Happily, many residents of New Albany live their entire lives in near perfect compliance with these ordinances despite not having once encountered them on a sheet of paper.

Others, a significant minority at the very least, choose consistently to ignore the responsibilities of living in a civilized society while at the same time enjoying the benefits, such as garbage collection, police protection and a fire department.

It is by no means elitist to suggest that these basic responsibilities be enforced fairly and universally by the city with the consent of the citizens who populate it, because to refuse these obligations is to promote anarchy, not freedom.

However, universal enforcement is unashamedly egalitarian, in the sense that the equality of all people living in New Albany is advanced when there is a level playing field, whether this is denoted by the struggle for human rights irrespective of sex, color or creed, or by the justifiable insistence that we all acknowledge shared responsibilities that are a prerequisite of civilization – whether homeowner, business owner, renter or absentee landlord.

For as many decades as the city has enacted ordinances, it has lacked the political will to mandate fair and universal enforcement of them. For reasons that lie deep within the unfortunate dysfunction that has characterized New Albany’s traditional leadership cadre, the fair and universal enforcement of the basic prerequisites of civilization has been deferred because somehow it is construed as a threat to the power of the city’s politicians.

Rather than viewing the rule of law as the ultimate affirmation of equality and opportunity, New Albany’s political leaders deride it as the pointy-headed province of intellectuals and outsiders and people who read far too often to be trusted.

In the fevered minds of the Councilmen Cappuccino’s of New Albany, to enforce ordinances is to lose the votes of those living in their districts who are not in compliance … and who, by refusing to acknowledge their responsibilities in a civilized society, are thumbing their noses at their neighbors.

And so, in the end, it would seem that the rights of the anti-social minority, not the law-abiding majority, are of the most enduring concern to generations of political leadership in New Albany, for if this were not true, wouldn’t New Albany’s political leadership enact an enforcement ordinance with genuine teeth, fund it to succeed, place good people in charge of it, and step back to reap the benefits of a cleaner, more livable city, one more attractive for investment and economic growth, and the kind of place where our best and brightest can remain living rather than moving elsewhere to find the better things in life?

Earlier this year, after much discussion and interminable wrangling, an ordinance enforcement ordinance was approved by the City Council and signed by Mayor Garner.

Like the starving victims of pestilence, gratified that a scrap of food was being tossed in our general direction, we hailed this achievement, along with neighborhood associations, fellow Bloggers and decent, caring folks on all corners.

But upon closer examination, as it is written and as it is proposed to be structured, funded and managed, this ordinance quite likely is doomed to failure – and in all likelihood intentionally so, for the same political reasons outlined above.

NA Confidential believes that the first goal of New Albany’s Constituency for Progress should be to examine the condition of the foundation of the city, and there is nothing more fundamental to the civilized coexistence of people in an urban area than the egalitarian sharing of responsibility and the fair and universal enforcement of the rule of law, whether that enforcement lies within the realm of the criminal code or the ordinance prohibiting junked automobiles.

Ordinance enforcement must be built to succeed, not fail.

Politicos, take note.

Monday, April 18, 2005

City Councilman Cappuccino speaks with NA Confidential

Don't forget that the time is now for New Albany's Constituency for Progress, and here's another reason why. Kindly note that the political entities satirized below are fictional creations of the author, and not to be mistaken for living, breathing people.

NAC: Today in the studio we have a very special guest, the esteemed city councilman of long standing, Mr. Cappuccino.

CC: Thank you (preening) … now, where’s that red light? Citizens, just last week, as I spent quality time with my beloved hobby of antique furniture refinishing, which I’d gladly settle for doing in a heartbeat if not for the hopes and dreams of dozens of honest, salt-of-the-earth West Side families, who depend on me to bring home their bacon, improve their drainage, install their water heaters and protect them from the Ordinance Nazis – hah! Boy, that’s a real knee-slapper – I gotta thank my friend Li’l Stevie here (Cappuccino hoists a doll atop his knee) for coming up with the Ordinance Nazi phrase, right Li’l Stevie?

LS: Yes sir, Mr. Cappuccino, you’re dead right, just like always … hey, there they are! NAZIS! NAZIS! Hide the video poker machine!

NAC: He’s certainly well tanned.

CC: Did you say well tamed? It runs in the family. Hmm, like I was piously intoning … anyway, my downtrodden westsiders need me, and as the Wizard I whiz only for them, even if it kills me.

NAC: All right. Here’s our first question, Mr. Cappuccino. Do you support ordinance enforcement in the city of New Albany?

CC: Well, Knack, when it comes to enforcing the prevailing laws, we have to be extra careful to avoid those questionable practices that might be conscrewed as discriminatory. We must understand at all times that there’s a higher principle involved than just the exterior design tastes and storage practices of fine, church-going, taxpaying people who have chosen to make New Albany their homes, and that’s because they have a right to expect a certain level of respect for the lifestyles they’ve chosen to lead.

NAC: Are you talking about the higher principle of fairness?

CC: (Rolling his eyes) Fairness? That’s what those godless Louisvillians are always pushing. Heck, we have plenty of fairness in New Albany, just so long as you’re normal. (Cappuccino strikes a theatrical pose) No, not, fairness, but the very lifeblood of the city itself, without which we’d have nothing.

NAC: The rule of law?

CC: (Exasperated) Law, schmaw. No, VOTES! Can’t live with ‘em when they’re cast by those hoity toity East Enders, and can’t live without ‘em if they’re my neighbors on the West Side! They don’t call me the Wizard for nothing, you know. At the same time, my world-famous barbecued bologna cookouts only go so far, and at some point, you have to earn the respect of your constituents, and one great way to do that is to protect them from the heat.

NAC: Wait -- did you say barbecued bologna?

CC: Yes, I can smell it and taste it right now. My neighbor Marcelene cooks it up right. Cube the bologna, cook some onions in oil, throw in your favorite barbecue sauce, let it simmer … man, let me tell you, that’s living. Right Li’l Stevie?

LS: And you can put it in Tupperware, Mr, Cappuccino! Save it for a rainy day! Save it for a rainy day!

NAC: Mr. Cappuccino, what were your thoughts last year when the city of New Albany began enforcing the right of way for street sweeping?

DC: Quite frankly, it was a blatant attack on our cherished West End way of life – family, church, iced tea, NASCAR and the ice cream social, all under siege by the Silver Hills elite and the book-readin’ snobs. You know, I’d call it discrimination, maybe even genocide … if I knew what genocide meant …

NAC: To be perfectly honest, that sounds somewhat paranoid.

CC: You book learners are all the same, and it’s a good thing I don’t have to read those books to know what’s in ‘em for me. Listen, just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean the pointy-heads aren’t out to get you. Every self-respecting ward heeler knows that ordinances are just like women – you’ve got to squeeeeze ‘em a little until they start making sense. Go and clean up the porno shop, and the people in the district love you. But when it comes to making them move the old appliances off the porch … well, that’s different. They’ll turn on you, vote against you, and all that tasty bologna’s wasted.

NAC: So, can you explain your vote in favor of ordinance enforcement?

CC: Of course I can. Like I said, I’m for it.

NAC: And what about your public statement that you are in favor of rental unit inspections?

CC: I’m for that, too.

NAC: But won’t you lose votes if such measures are adopted?

CC: There’s the rub, knacker. Being for 'em is one thing, but you didn’t hear me say anything about FUNDING them properly, did you? Or writing that ordinance so it'd have any chance of working?

NAC: Perhaps we’re beginning to understand the central equation.

CC: Don't you see? If we give the uppity East Enders and City Hall what they want, and then it doesn’t work out in the end … well, you just try and guess who gets blamed when it tanks – right Li’l Stevie?

LS: Right, boss!! My friends, I’m not anti-parks, and I’m not anti-progress … I’m anti-success!! No, wait, I mean I’m anti-egress!! No, that’s zoning-speak. I’m anti-Garner!! That’s it!! It's all his fault!!

CC: Yes it is. It’s kind of like the good spy, bad spy thing in Mad magazine.

NAC: Oh, so you read Mad magazine?

CC: NO! For the last time, I don’t read … but I know what people are writing. It’s a trick that Dick Nixon would have taught me if he would’ve been a Democrat … not that I was ever a Republican, mind you. Like I always say, be proud, be Democrat!

LS: NAZIS! NAZIS! They’re coming now, and they have books!!

NAC: But I thought the Nazis burned books?

CC: Who knows, but I’ve found that the biggest words tend to make the best open fire underneath that skillet of barbecued bologna.

NAC: But isn’t there an ordinance against open fires?

CC: Not where I come from, tenderfoot: The Wild, Wild West.

NAC: Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have today. Thanks to Mr. Cappuccino and Li’l Stevie for speaking with us today.

CC: Thanks, and just a quick reminder to my constituents – I have the keys to the crapper, if any of you need to use it.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The time is now for New Albany's Constituency for Progress

The people in Madison, Indiana, don’t look any different than the people in New Albany.

Madison surely has the same problems as New Albany, the same social ills, meth labs, serial ordinance violators, under-funded services, decaying historical properties, absentee landlords, thieving state legislative nabobs, and local politicos barely fit to profitably operate a slushy machine in July, much less a city year round, and who are afraid to urge their constituents to obey the law lest they lose votes.

And yet, there we were on a Sunday afternoon, downtown in a small Indiana city, fairly clean and tidy considering there’s a weekend-long “Madison” movie release party under way, with shops and eateries open for business in historic commercial buildings, a lovely river promenade, and at least two wineries, including the great Thomas Family Winery on 2nd Street.

Our day visiting Madison was depressing, indeed.

Everywhere you look in a place like Madison, you see creative ideas applicable to New Albany.

Everywhere you look in New Albany, and especially when you look into the eyes of the political, civic and business “leaders” over a period of forty years, you see an utterly laughable inability to even begin fathoming the meaning of the word “creative.”

That’s because in New Albany, we coddle the anti-social dim bulbs and purge the creative, bright lights.

Decades pass. Our worthiest sons and daughters – the bright, capable and eager future leaders of the city – get away from New Albany as fast as they can, far away from institutionalized slum lord debasement not just tolerated but welcomed over a period of four or more decades, away from the overcrowded and trashy Harvest Homecoming that is our sole and only claim to infamy, away from a place where any good idea, any sign of intelligent life, any revolt against the lumpy mashed potato norm is dismissed and derided as craziness emanating from a book-reading, un-American faggot who can just move the hell out if he or she doesn't like it here.

Do you think this characterization of traditional New Albany is somehow unfair? If so, we submit with all due respect that you have a strong coffee, look around you, and face the unpleasant facts of the matter.

All of it is true, it’s inexcusable, it's embarrassing, and the inescapable conclusion is that we’ve been purging the wrong elements all these years.

NA Confidential has concluded that all those who share our disgust with New Albany’s sadistic status quo must unite around a single sustainable issue, lavish all our efforts toward achieving results, and begin the grassroots adjustment in attitudes that will be necessary to awaken the city.

As Randy Smith of Destinations Booksellers has aptly coined us, the Constituency for Progress begins now.

What should this defining issue be?

Remember, we’re looking for something that can be achieved empirically at a fundamental level of everyday life throughout the city, something that can be measured and quantified, and something that can unite those of like mind.

And, punish those opposed. If this elusive “something” also costs our current crop of politicians votes, then that’s even better.

NAC’s answer will come later this week. First, we want to hear yours.

Fits and fallacies: Rewriting history, though not in the sense intended

(Response to directed comment, re: “Rewriting history: IUS research team may force rewriting of Lewis and Clark Expedition,” by Tim Deatrick, Tribune Correspondent. Sorry, the article is not archived on-line.)

TD, you’ve been doing pretty good work in the Tribune, especially the article about John Moody’s globetrotting turkey hunt, but this one just isn’t very good.

Rarely has the Tribune’s lackadaisical attitude toward text editing been as glaringly deficient as with your article, which purports to provide a major “scoop,” yet is disorganized and does not provide coherent support for the headline that inaccurately screams above it.

Couldn't you have written about sports, instead?

There may or may not be something to your contention that research into the Lewis & Clark expedition conducted at Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, by an IUS student team under the direction of Dr. Claude Baker is “historical” in nature, presumably in the sense of “outstanding” or “epochal,” but if so, the article makes almost none of it clear.

Furthermore, it is painfully obvious that you begin with a preconceived thesis about the effect of Lewis & Clark’s expedition on Native American culture, and look for corroboration to Dr. Baker's university research that has nothing whatsoever to do with the preconceived notion.

There are three rather disjointed assertions:

(1) The research being done by the IUS team and Dr. Baker may result in people realizing that the Lewis & Clark expedition began at Big Bone Lick, not the Louisville area.

(2) Accordingly, Thomas Jefferson’s scientific intentions, and especially his interest in mammoths and the possibility of other large mammals existing on the frontier, can be viewed under a different light.

(3) From all this we can concur with spokespersons for various Native American groups that the subjugation of Native American inhabitants was Jefferson’s prime aim in launching the expedition.

In point of fact, there’s nothing particularly new about Big Bone Lick, neither in the context of Lewis & Clark nor in the sense of Jefferson’s recurring mammoth fixation. Here are just two of dozens of web references on the topic:

Big Bone Lick part of Lewis and Clark legacy

Return to Big Bone Lick

Quotes attributed to Dr. Baker, the IUS research team leader, deal with the general parameters of the research project, and Dr. Baker seems content merely to reconfirm the scientific research aims of Jefferson and the Lewis & Clark expedition’s activities pursuant to these aims: The expedition was scientific, and not a “camping trip.”

Nowhere in your article is Dr. Baker quoted to the effect that the expedition was intended as a means of Native American subjugation, although this, too, is a topic much on the minds of a variety of historians and non-traditional thinkers. As an example:

Lewis & Clark helped rob American Indians

You are so transparently eager to link some or all of the preceding, including Dr. Claude Baker, Big Bone Lick, mammoth bones and Thomas Jefferson, to the subsequent “subjugation” of Native American culture that you must play a shell game with those three assertions.

Unfortunately, like Ms. Stein said, there's no there there.

Because no link exists from what Dr. Baker’s research is accomplishing and what you desperately wants us to believe with reference to Native Americans, you resort to an exceedingly weak rhetorical segue, first benignly quoting Dr. Baker as to the specifics of Jefferson’s scientific intent, then immediately writing that Native American Journalists Association President Patty Talahanagva “seems to agree with Baker” – although the words of Talahanagva’s that follow, which make the point that the Native American perspective about Lewis & Clark is valuable and should be heard, have nothing to do with Dr. Baker’s comments about science on the expedition.

From there, it’s a quick and easy but illogical path back to your preconceived thesis, that the expedition was “a way to subjugate the American Indian” rather than open trade with Native Americans, as Jefferson publicly implied.

As there is nothing in any of this new or novel, exactly what history must be rewritten?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Bardstown Road produce market up and running

NA Confidential trusts that Louisville's ranking food and dining writer, Robin Garr, doesn't mind our reprinting his comments below, which appeared this morning on the Louisville Restaurant Forum.

Bardstown Road produce market gearing up for the season

"The Saturday ritual returns! We had heard that the Bardstown Road produce market (near Speed) had been sparsely attended for the past couple of weeks with only one or two vendors, but it's so pretty out this morning, we decided to drive over, and were delighted to find it going strong with most of the usual sales booths there. Lots of really pretty spring produce, potted garden plants and herbs, and the usual free-range chix, natural meats, free-range eggs, etc.

"It wasn't very crowded this morning - I think a lot of people don't realize it's back yet - but it was fun to enjoy this sign of spring, and if you're in the mood for produce, it'll probably run for a couple more hours. Later in the summer, it's best to get there close to 8 before popular items like fresh eggs sell out, but I'm guessing that most of the vendors will be there until after noon today."

Here's the NAC plug: Robin's main web site, Louisville Hot Bytes, and the offshoot Louisville Restaurant Forum both are required viewing for local foodies who seek the latest restaurant, dining and food-related information. There's simply no better sources in the metro Louisville area.

Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Confidential will be roadtripping to Bloomington next Saturday, thereby avoiding the tasteless cacaphony otherwise known as Thunder Over Louisville, and a prime objective is the Bloomington Community Farmers' Market (here another story link from a different source).

Local volunteers are hard at work in an effort to transform and reinvigorate New Albany's downtown farmers' market following several unfortunately moribund years. By observing first-hand the successful formulas for farmers' markets in places like Bloomington and Bardstown Road, we're better able to visualize the future shape of New Albany's, and plan accordingly.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Tidbits from recent Board of Public Works & Safety meetings

Meetings of New Albany's Board of Public Works & Safety are held weekly on Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. in the 3rd-floor meeting room of the City County Building.

Board members are Anthony B. Toran (President), Chas Hunter and Steve LaDuke.

City department heads (police, fire, humane, streets, etc.) sit in and participate, and the board operates crisply and efficiently as it considers a wide range of issues pertaining to the day-to-day operation of the our local infrastructure.

Among the interesting items emerging from the last two meetings are ongoing efforts to address citizen concerns by enforcing parking regulations at the Body Shop on East 15th and Spring Street; the fate of the abandoned but at one time impressive old home at 309 & 311 East 10th Street; and the revelation that investors are planning on renovating the vacated Sherwin-Williams property at 419 State Street as a retail store and adjoining coffee house.

Even more impressively, it was noted this week that a caterer from Sellersburg plans to operate a weenie wagon in front of the City County Building on summertime Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It has yet to be seen if the operator will be wearing a pirate costume, but NA Confidential has a soft spot for loaded dogs.

Previously in NA Confidential: Blevins, Laduke and Toran appear before the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Update on the future of the Pennsylvania Railroad Freight Depot

As promised, there have been meetings between Mayor Garner, city officials and Floyd County historical preservation advocates with regard to the future of the Pennsylvania Railroad Freight Depot at the foot of State Street by the floodwall.

Not unexpectedly, what happens next probably will be prefigured by cash … or more likely (and sadly), by its absence.

It’s easy to see how the 1880’s vintage building, which currently is used by Schmitt Furniture as a mattress warehouse, might be integrated into the Scribner Place project as a theme restaurant or pub.

Unfortunately, the depot’s distinctive architectural features almost entirely have been removed, bricked in and painted over, and the price tag for restoring the building to some semblance of its original appearance and making it usable for business may be as high as $1,000,000.

Given the present appearance of the rail depot, the building’s inconspicuous location, and with Scribner Place’s completion still 18 months away, renovation is looking like a very hard sell, indeed.

Both Develop New Albany and New Albany’s Economic Development Director, Paul Wheatley, are to be commended for shopping the renovation-and-restaurant idea to local interests. All hearts seem to be in the right place on this one, and we wish them luck.

Previously in NA Confidential: It's the Pennsylvania Railroad Freight Depot, and here's the story.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Hint: We're for the "progressive" thinkers on the county council

Once again, the Floyd County Council has taken up the issue of doing something about its deteriorating county office annex on Grant Line Road and concurrent overcrowding at the City County Building downtown.

Once again, the Floyd County Council has not agreed on a course of action.

According to the coverage provided by the Tribune’s Kyle Lowry, the individual council members come down something like this: In the form of a committee, Randy Stumler, Jeff Fessel and Dana Fendley have been investigating options for consolidation of offices downtown, with the Fair Store property most often mentioned as the option that is both affordable, previously remodeled for offices, and ready for immediate occupancy.

As a corollary, Stumler and others have suggested that such a move be temporary, at least until a new City County Building can be built as an extension of the Scribner Place project.

Larry McAllister continues to advocate the idea of buying the redundant Northside Christian complex on Grant Line Road, even though the council overwhelmingly and definitively voted against the plan as recently as February.

Drawbacks to Northside are that renovations would be required, the purchase price is much higher than that of the Fair Store property, and some council members have remained uncomfortable with a transaction in which a former council member, Don McCartin, would be acting as real estate agent for the church.

Neither Lana Aebersold nor Carol Shope are quoted in Lowry’s most recent Tribune article. However, NA Confidential recalls Aebersold raising objections to the price of Northside, but not the concept itself, and Shope voting against McAllister’s Northside proposal in February.

This informal roll call leaves Floyd County Council President Ted Heavrin, who on several occasions has publicly dismissed the prospects of the Fair Store proposal owing to his concerns over parking downtown.

Today, Lowry quotes Heavrin:

"We've got to have 40 to 60 parking spaces just for workers … that's what's killing downtown -- no parking."

Heavrin’s response is worth examining, not only because he commits the logical fallacy of the “complex question,” which is described as:

“Two otherwise unrelated points are conjoined and treated as a single proposition. The reader is expected to accept or reject both together, when in reality one is acceptable while the other is not.”

While it is legitimate for Heavrin to be concerned about the prospects for parking as these apply specifically to the proposal that county offices be located in the Fair Store building, it doesn’t follow that an inference can be made with respect to parking in the universal sense, as in “That’s what’s killing downtown – no parking.”

At the present time, parking is not “killing downtown” because the concentration of offices and businesses that require parking has not yet achieved the level of critical mass at which problems might be expected to occur.

In logical terms, the future prospect of parking problems, whether real or imagined, has little to do with the immediate problem of finding enough places for a relocated county office complex at the Fair Store.

Already scolded after taking issue with the grammar and syntax of local elected officials, NA Confidential chooses not to belabor Heavrin’s fallacy, as his difficulties extend beyond the range of common logic.

Looking over the Tribune’s coverage of the county office relocation story, it would appear that Heavrin has held a number of positions on it so far. At one point, he spoke favorably of the Northside proposal, and when it was voted down, offered a plan of his own to buy 10 acres astride Grant Line Road and across from Key Communications.

While admirably flexible to alternatives -- apparently so long as they’re located on Grant Line Road -- Heavrin’s general theme has been “anywhere but downtown,” a motif he somewhat embarrassingly explicated at the March meet-and-greet of the Southeast Indiana Chamber of Commerce at New Albany's White House Center, where the majority of those in attendance are in favor of downtown revitalization.

Heavrin’s iciness that day was ably documented by Volunteer Hoosier in “A Chill in the Air.” Ironic, then, that subsequently it was revealed that the Fair Store actually is part of Heavrin’s council district.

NA Confidential returns to the central question in the life and times of New Albany, circa 2005: Progressive, or regressive?

Where does the Floyd County Council's president come down on this vitally important referendum?

Council still split on where to move, by Kyle Lowry, Tribune County Reporter.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Gospel shows at the Trinkle Dome will change all that

I found this in an old e-mail file. Our friend Ed may have forgotten sending it to me roughly three years ago.

From "Lonely Planet USA" (1st Edition, March 1999):

"Adjacent New Albany (opposite Louisville), the only Indiana town of any size in the region, doesn't have much to recommend it, and bypassing it is not a bad idea."

Yet again, proof that two decades of promoting New Albany as "Slum Lord Capital of Indiana" just hasn't enhanced the tourist trade.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Scribner Place spades turned today as work begins

Demolition work begins today at the future site of Scribner Place, phase one. A YMCA, swimming pool, parking facility and adjacent improvements to accommodate the Ohio River Greenway.

Is it a whole new era for downtown New Albany, or a bureaucratic boondoggle?

Perhaps neither, but any investment in downtown is welcomed and constitutes an improvement on the failed strategies of the past.

To be sure, the staunchest proponent of Scribner Place must concede that in and of itself, a YMCA is not the engine for downtown revitalization. Rather, the gamble is that a tangible building project undertaken by the city and supported by private resources will provide the impetus for further investment.

Uncharacteristically in the context of city and county politics, Scribner Place already has inspired several worthwhile examples of thinking outside the box, as in various proposals to consolidate offices in a new City-County Building along the waterfront.

Such ideas naturally have incited the wrath of the bizarre but sizeable local camp that flies the "no progress at any price" banner, and for this we must be appreciative, for even if new ideas are not able to be carried to fruition, at least the reactionary elements among the populace can be readily identified.

And defeated.

For decades too numerous to count, New Albany has been content to passively sanction the lowest common denominator, to espouse the creed of the absentee landlord ("profit from exploitation and disinvestment)," and to mouth platitudes about the merits of education and knowledge, all the while smirking in Coffeyesque fashion: Children may or may not be left behind, ordinances may or may not be enforced, progress may or may not be made, so long as votes are not lost.

A worthy model ... for 1905.

The Scribner Place gamble may or may not succeed (NA Confidential is betting that it will) , but for many of us, the stakes are far higher: Can New Albany learn to live, to think and to work smarter before it's too late?

Demolition for YMCA to begin Monday, by Amany Ali, Tribune City Editor

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Two Tribune views on this fine Sunday morning

Both NA Confidential (kippers and espresso) and Volunteer Hoosier (breakfast choice unknown) have read this morning’s New Albany Tribune.

Here is VH’s take on the Tribune’s place in the community:

If You Don't Read the Tribune

Leave it to Randy (VH) to find the “up” side of the Tribune just as Roger’s (NAC) frustration with the newspaper has reached another in a long series of boiling points.

Specifically, the Tribune has been almost completely silent with regard to the Indiana legislative controversy over redistributing riverboat casino monies from host counties (like our neighbor, Harrison) to the remainder of the state.

To be sure, NA Confidential’s polemics on this issue have been intentionally couched in terms of a rampaging state G.O.P. attacking all principles of taste and decency, but our deadly accurate rhetorical flourishes aside, the topic remains one of deep pertinence to every resident of this state irrespective of party affiliation.

On this, the Tribune has next to nothing to say. Crickets chirp, and pins are heard dropping.

But ... when a longtime Providence High School football coach and teacher is made redundant a year short of retirement, managing editor Chris Morris produces a 500-word editorial protesting the injustice.

Chris’s editorial appears in today’s Tribune, and it is a fine piece of writing, and yet, as unjust as the terminated teacher’s ousting appears to be, shouldn’t the cynical reaming of entire counties filled with people just like the Providence coach inspire something of the same indignation?

If not, then why?

Once again, the Louisville Courier-Journal provides the only coverage of the casino redistribution controversy:

Riverboat casino-budget plan may be floating away by Lesley Stedman Wiedenbener of the Courier-Journal (limited shelf life on C-J links).

Friday, April 08, 2005

C-J visits new business incubator at the old Robinson-Nugent property

New Albany’s hapless Tribune is scooped yet again as the Courier’s-Journal's Indiana columnist, Dale Moss, goes public with news of publisher Gerry Durnell’s plans to establish a business incubator in the abandoned Robinson-Nugent buildings on 8th Street.

Old factory could give life to New Albany companies … Publisher plans business incubator, by Dale Moss (limited shelf life for C-J links)

Durnell once was publisher of Pizza Today, operating the magazine out of attractively remodeled office space at the old Fair Store on the corner of Market and Bank Streets.

When Durnell's interests turned to automotive specialty publishing, he sold Pizza Today (now operating in Louisville) and moved his publishing business to the present location at Robinson-Nugent. He’s selling the Fair Store building, which some believe to be an ideal site for the consolidation of county offices until a projected new City-County building is constructed near Scribner Place.

Meanwhile, recent Tribune "news" stories have listed the participants in a riverfront gospel concert booked for his namesake Trinkle Dome by the ever hip Bob "Stonedeaf Band" Trinkle, surveyed the establishment of a Dog Club by the 4H, and described a local woman's amazement at going to lunch at Southside and being served a cheese sandwich that bore a perfect likeness of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.*

*Okay, so I made up the cheese sandwich item. It's artistic license.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Sounds of violation and silence: Indiana's shameless Republicans continue their assault on civilized values, taste and decency

Yesterday in Indianapolis, State Senator Johnny Nugent (R – Lawrenceburg) challenged his own party’s “leadership” by proposing to amend legislation and to allow casino counties to retain riverboat revenue that Nugent’s fellow Republican looters are seeking to extract like some piously sanctioned fiscal root canal performed against the will of the patient, and of any sensible definition of conscience, by our reigning G.O.P. overlords.

Nugent’s proposal was duly crushed, and he was the only Republican to vote for it.

This unmitigated thrashing of inter-party dissonance provided high-octane Viagra to stoke the hubris of the State Senate’s most eloquent advocate of casino county rape and pillage, State Senator Robert Meeks (R – LaGrange), who provided these timely words to the Courier-Journal’s reporter on the scene:

"They've got a lot of money. We don't have any. They've had the gravy train for a long time."

Greed and envy … how characteristically Republican.

Pausing to climb higher up his barnyard fence and garner better acoustics for crowing, the rooster Meeks then shrugged, belched, and noted that the casually expedient thievery of Senate Republicans should come as no surprise:

"Even if we give a guarantee -- like we do in most bills we pass -- we change them somewhere down the line. This General Assembly modifies bills and laws every time we're in session. We do that constantly."

For the record, Meeks’s home county lies directly north of Harrison County, all the way by the Michigan state line, and between South Bend and Angola. Internet sources indicate that in most cases, the income levels of the two counties are almost identical.

Alas, NA Confidential's lonely vigil continues amidst the roar of crickets chirping and pins dropping.

Is there a single Republican in all of Floyd County who will attempt to justify – if for no other reason, then just for the hell of it -- the updated “If the Mongol Horde is Inevitable” mode of economic larceny espoused by their brethren at the state level in Indiana?

Bid to halt casino tax takeover is rejected, by Lesley Stedman Weidenbener of the Louisville Courier-Journal

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Status report on the Penn RR depot (Scribner Place)

At Monday evening's City Council meeting, against all odds, the self-serving drone of anti-park councilmen Dan Coffey and Steve Price miraculously abated for just long enough that Mayor James Garner was able to squeeze a few words into the program.

When the Mayor stepped forward, Coffey was seen to reach for a book to pass the minutes ... until he remembered he doesn't read.

Remaining on task and succinct, Mayor Garner noted that the demolition of existing buildings (Double Seven Tire, et al) to make way for Scribner Place would begin on Monday, April 11.

Ted Fulmore of the Historic Preservation Commission offers this update on the status of the Pennsylvania Railroad Freight Depot (Schmitt Furniture's mattress warehouse), which the commission is interested in saving from the wrecking ball and incorporating in the Scribner Place plan:

"Just wanted to drop you a note about the Penn RR depot. I saw in the Tribune that the Mayor stated demo for Scribner Place would begin 4/11.

"However, the group from the commission is meeting with the Mayor this Thursday to discuss the Depot. We are still hopeful that the demolition will not include it. We'll know more on Thursday. I'll shoot you an update when we hear something definitive."

Thanks, Ted.

Archive (Wednesday, March 16, 2005): It's the Pennsylvania Railroad Freight Depot, and here's the story

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Atta boy, Todd: New Albany knows Welcome Wagon

The as yet unverified word on the street is that Maria Bell, owner of the Greek Paradise restaurant formerly located on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville, acted on a tip from NA Confidential, met with Develop New Albany, and took a liking to the small but equipped and ready café space at 311 Pearl Street opposite Federal Hill Café.

Unfortunately, the owner of the building, Todd Coleman of Classic Furniture, would only accept an outright purchase of the long vacant retail space, and would not so much as consider leasing it.

Accordingly, NA Confidential profusely thanks Coleman for his principled stand in helping to preserve an vital unused downtown New Albany property from the grim fate of occupancy, usefulness and the promise of delicious tzatziki.

Does this qualify the community-minded Coleman for a Sunnyside Chamber award of some sort?

Campaign slogans we'd like to see

Coffey for Mayor in '07: "You trusted him with the keys to the public toilet … now trust him with the keys to the city.”

Monday, April 04, 2005

UPDATED: A dynamic (hot) Air Supply reunion at Monday night's City Council meeting

Mostly it was a languid gathering tonight, although our colleague Volunteer Hoosier promises to provide his usual thoughtful and factual summaries as time permits. We'll direct readers there, and to the Tribune's coverage, as links become available.

Tuesday update: Volunteer Hoosier's detailed commentary
Tuesday update: Tribune coverage by Amany Ali, City Editor

However, there's always time for a few personal observations, and at this point in time, I'm too annoyed for satire. Disgust seems a more appropriate choice.

Judging from tonight's council meeting, and with a long grace period behind him, it must now be said that our 3rd District Councilman Steve Price is not only gaffe-ridden and abjectly confused. Politically, he is becoming an embarrassment to the district.

Taking Price in tandem as Tweedledee to Dan "Wizard of Westside" Coffey's Tweededum, or as Charlie McCarthy or Mortimer Snerd to Coffey's Edgar Bergen -- and given the sad propensity of both Price and Coffey to admire the dulcet tones of their own voices for periods of time far longer than that required for Hannibal to march elephants over the Alps -- I am quite frankly apologetic for ever having castigated Mayor James Garner for his periodic difficulties in communicating.

It would seem that Mayor Garner at least knows when not to speak, and that even if his words aren't always ideal, he at least knows the material.

Price can lay claim to neither of these virtues, and to make his performance even more unfortunate, he refrains from butchering the syntax only when Coffey pauses to take a drink of water.

Tonight, Price contributed another of his cult classic quotes, this one coming after ten bewildering, very public minutes of inability to understand certain obvious features of the parks department budget ... and having stumbled further even as he was being corrected by the ever-exasperated (but on this occasion remarkably patient) Councilman Mark Seabrook, Price apparently then resolved to spend the rest of the evening digging a deeper hole by endlessly qualifying his malapropisms, finally blurting, "I'm not anti-park, and I'm not anti-progress -- I'm just anti-excess."


And: "I just think we should be looking at the worst case scenario."

Well, we're looking at it, all right, and he's my councilman until 2007.

Readers, there is absolutely no doubt -- none -- that New Albany's future prospects are tied to "being smarter" in educational performance, in style of governance, in lifestyle choices, in business, in pleasure ... it's our only hope.

Tonight's dispiriting performance by a self-aggrandizing ward heeler obsessed with locked public park toilets (Coffey), and his fawning 3rd District acolyte Price ("we won't get no riverboat money") serves to remind us of how far we must travel before genuine change takes root and grows.

Barring an eleventh-hour reprieve -- perhaps Price will leap forward to spearhead a drive to smite absentee landlords, or earnestly propose that we finally bury those war veterans who gave their lives to continue gambling at the Legion -- then it's never too early to begin the search for competent representation, which in this case would be a non-Republican with a pulse.


On-line community forum unveiled: Clean Up New Albany

NA Confidential is overjoyed to pass along this news from Jim Sprigler, who with his wife Tabitha has created a true on-line forum (as opposed to the admittedly imperfect "blogging" format) for discussion of various ways of "cleaning up" New Albany.

This is another in a series of valuable steps that are bringing together those in the community who share a common interest in improving New Albany.

Here is Jim's announcement:


From the discussions during the past couple of neighborhood meetings, my wife and I came up with this idea:

Clean Up New Albany

Basically we see this as a community forum where everyone can go and post questions, concerns, etc. about cleaning up the city, both literally and figuratively, in areas of actual physical structures as well as community activism.

We think the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association does a great
job at what it does, to us this as just an extension of the ESNA and every
other neighborhood association in New Albany, more or less a single place for everyone and every association to come together and work together.

Since I already have so many other ventures on my plate, my wife Tabitha is
spearheading this one, and she can be contacted at the following e-mail address:

Hopefully, the site will grow, and if there's a need to expand the forums beyond those that currently exist (as we just kind of took a stab in the dark on how to break them up), we can do so. Since this is to be a community forum, input from the community on what you would like to see is greatly appreciated.

If you aren't familiar with a standard online forum, you can post topics, from there post replies to said topics, and anywhere along the way, upload images and setup some polls, etc. That's just scratching the surface.

We've also setup a forum by the name of "Testing Area" where you can post for no other reason just to test and make sure you've got a handle on things.


Jim Sprigler
East Spring Street Neighborhood Association

Sunday, April 03, 2005

On measuring achievement: Some merely throw the line into the water, but others are fishermen

For the past two months, I’ve been sifting through the contingencies as my business and livelihood, the New Albanian Brewing Company, approaches a challenging transitional time.

Specifically, our brewer from inception, Michael Borchers, is leaving us to return to school, and a new brewer has been engaged. He is being trained, and looks to be a good fit for us.

This fit didn’t come quickly or easily. Seeing as we’re a family-run business with limited resources, finding a trained brewer with experience who’ll also work relatively cheaply has proven to be a virtually impossible proposition.

That’s the sort of reality to which we’ve become accustomed, and as such, it’s an acceptable part of doing business.

What does one look for in a brewer?

Especially as it pertains to small-scale brewing, it strikes me that formal training is less important than enthusiasm, a willingness to learn, and the presence of an intangible “taste” for the possibilities inherent in craft beer.

Learning the step-by-step is one thing, but having a feeling for a job is something else entirely. Brewing is art as much as science, and training that focuses on technical processes omits exposure to the beer and brewing aesthetic that in turn lends itself to creativity and absorption in the craft.

A brewer can be taught and learn the technical nuances of brewing, but does he or she have an instinctive appreciation for beer, for styles of beer, for flavors and textures and moods of beer, and for the history of beer?

These are the foundations of good beer, and if they’re solidly in place, it’s worth more than half the game.

In my business, the beer that is brewed on site is just one facet of the overall presentation.

We serve the finest beers from American and the world, and to the casual observer, it may seem like the many choices offered are overwhelming. Actually, there are hundreds more beers that we could add to the list if there were sufficient space and money for inventory, and if the beers moved quickly enough before getting old.

However, more so than shelves, money and age, the choice of beers offered is determined by knowledge of the many options within the more narrow parameters of a design, a plan, an objective that embodies what I hope people experience when exploring the world’s beers.

In essence, that’s my job – to know these beers inside and out, to use my specialized knowledge to organize and sell, and to teach customers so they can make informed choices.

But more than that, my job is to believe in beer.

It has been said that certain people possess an innate ability to sell, and these born salesmen might just as easily sell automobiles, securities or wine.

Personal experience has taught me that this is true, and that such people do exist, and yet this knowledge makes me uneasy. If given my choice, I’ll reject the “professional” and embrace the one who believes, who feels, and who lives the job.

Obviously, my preference probably shouldn’t be extended to an untrained intern over a skilled professional surgeon.

My point is that when it comes to matters like art and entertainment, and food and drink, intangibles come readily into play. Professional skills are valued, but they're no more important than sound instincts and the ability both to know and to feel the objective.

Ponderables ...

Can a cigarette smoker properly administer a non-smoking area? Perhaps …

Can someone for whom the acme of culinary achievement is Applebee’s grasp the concept of a quirky independent eatery? Maybe …

Can a Coors Light drinker speak the same language as a craft beer aficionado? Possibly …

But in all three cases, probably not.


Turning to the local media, in today’s Sunday edition of the New Albany Tribune, there is an article about Develop New Albany, the non-profit entity with the mandate to help improve "downtown" New Albany.

For the past 15 years, Develop New Albany (DNA) Executive Director Nick Cortolillo, Associate Director Jane Alcorn and a host of volunteers have been working hard to beautify and strengthen downtown … “I feel like I've made a difference since I've been here,” Cortolillo said. “I can see the positive change (in downtown).”

DNA working to bring life back to downtown New Albany, by Lyle Lowry, Tribune County Reporter.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

More on the Culbertson Club, courtesy of Business First

Pertaining to our discussion earlier this week of the Culbertson Club and Culbertson West, New Alb Annie found this article in Business First and posted the link as a comment. I'm bringing it back to the top in case readers missed it:

Culbertson Club in Business First
(registration may be required)

Friday, April 01, 2005

A pervasive, deafening silence as Indiana Republicans prepare to "Abner" Harrison County

For the first time since NA Confidential's inception, I admit to being utterly flabbergasted.

To again reiterate what the Louisville Courier-Journal, NA Confidential and Volunteer Hoosier have been saying for several weeks, Indiana's Republican legislators are gaining momentum in their efforts to do to Harrison County (and other riverboat casino host counties) what the New York City police did to Abner Louima, by unceremoniously relieving the these counties of the majority of the casino tax revenue promised to them in 1993.

Not only that, but this act of fiscal rape is being perpetrated in broad daylight, sans rhetorical lubricants or the slightest sense of shame on the part of the G.O.P., with that party's pious posturings of "fairness" being completely contradicted by arrogance like that of Rep. Troy Woodruff (R-Vincennes), who has stated publicly that he's not interested in a casino, just the money from Evansville's casino.

Just for the fun of it, and understanding that my chances of getting a response are nil, my comments yesterday have been forwarded to the Governor, selected state representatives, the Floyd County Republican party, and Chris Morris, editor of the Tribune, who today surveyed the world around him and coughed up a hairball disguised as an editorial about the NCAA Final Four.

But to my surprise, these same comments generated all of two responses from NA Confidential readers, one of which did not address the budget issue. By contrast, there have been 29 comments on the two-week-old topic of the Cottom Street used house lot, with the most recent coming in today.

I'm forced to conclude that there's more than a little cognitive dissonance among those of you who proudly voted Republican last fall, and now are looking the other way while the Indiana G.O.P. falls over itself like the Keystone Kops, hurrying to violate the principles that it claims to hold dear, by plunging its grubby hands into the pockets of Indiana counties with no more coherent rationale than simple envy, so as to redistribute the ill-gotten booty in a manner that would make most socialists blush with embarrassment.

Perhaps we can petition the European Union for foreign aid to make up for the loss of revenue.