Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Fly on the wall, gnat in "Comments": NAC listens as Citizen Huckleberry slurs Southern Indiana United Soccer Club

"The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear - fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants above everything else is safety."
H.L. Mencken

If you choose to attend a New Albany City Council meeting, listen carefully to the voices of the assembled throng as the public reading of the Pledge of Allegiance draws to a conclusion.

Those in attendance generally attempt to finish the pledge together, and in a way that would make a high school choral director beam, with all voices concluding, “ … and justice for all.”

Except one.

The lone voice that invariably pauses a full beat before concluding is that of Citizen David Huckleberry.

As written, the words “for all” reek of solemn optimism and earnest hope, but Citizen Huckleberry’s delivery yields a cautionary tone not unlike that of the Grim Reaper barking “next!” to his receptionist while sharpening his scythe.

Citizen Huckleberry’s dark incantations of gloom and doom during the “communications from the public” portion of our twice-monthly City Council meetings are an endearing, if insanely repetitious, feature of the New Albanian civic landscape.

These fear-mongering homilies would be far more entertaining if they weren’t also central motifs of the “no progress at any price” cadre, which reveres Citizen Huckleberry for his uncanny ability to rain rhetorically on the most benign of parades.

Last evening was no exception to the rule.

Citizen Huckleberry advised the council to “reach down and do what needs to be done” about the budget crisis, and reminded them that numerous symbolic gadgets of the modern world, like cell phones and gasoline (and perhaps electricity and movable type), are being chronically misused by local government employees.

Furthermore, cautioned Citizen Huckleberry, property taxes soon will be going up, and riverboat revenue might well be going down. Pollution, pestilence, corruption, malfeasance … in other words, we’re broke, we’re in trouble, we’re paralyzed, we’re afraid, we’re powerless, we’re finished, and this is no time to be looking to the future.

Circle the wagons, fortify the breastworks, hide your Hot Wheels collectibles, and above all else, remember that resistance is futile. Your forbearers tamed the wilderness … but after all, they were real men, and we’re just timid worms waiting for our turn to wiggle on life’s inexorable hook.

Granted, those strangely resourceful cavemen who invented the wheel faced the same resistance to change, and yet Citizen Huckleberry is neither a lone wolf nor a crank, and we giggle at his antics at our peril.

He has a perfect right to continue speaking, and he no doubt will do so irrespective of NA Confidential’s or anyone else’s opinion on the matter, but it is important for those of us who believe in the power of ideas and the possibilities afforded by an intelligent future to understand that not all of our brethren agree, and like Citizen Huckleberry, Tiny Tim, Councilman Cappuccino and Li’l Stevie, they are prepared to fight for the right to obstruct progress.

Self-immolation can’t be far behind, can it?

And not a moment too soon.

Citizen Huckleberry speaks for that segment of New Albany’s population that considers themselves to be besieged on all sides by strange outsiders who want to make the city a better place to live, work, and raise children … and, recoiling from the prospect of a well-adjusted and productive social order, they chant the words of the Grinch with a certain nostalgic fondness:

“I must stop this whole thing! Why, for fifty-three years I've put up with it now. I must stop (it) from coming... but how?

Citizen Huckleberry closed his commentary last evening in a typically dire and finger-wagging fashion by lobbing a disgraceful allegation in the general direction of the Southern Indiana United Soccer Club (SIU), whose members appeared en masse at the last council meeting to express support for the proposed Cannon Youth Sports Complex.

According to Citizen Huckleberry, the soccer club is 5013C and tax exempt, and this appears to be truthful.

What is not truthful is Huckleberry’s contemptible insinuation to the effect that tax-exempt status somehow precludes the organization (which was not present to defend itself) from lobbying for a specific position in which it has a vested interest – in this case, advocating the building of soccer fields for its members to use.

In reality, the tax-exempt SIU mustn’t engage in partisan politics or endorse candidates, and the club’s support for a youth sports complex obviously is not something that falls within the realm of partisan politics … ah, but there’s the rub, because Citizen Huckleberry’s choice of words – predictably offered with no opportunity for rebuttal -- were designed to imply precisely that, leaving those of a non-critical frame of mind, i.e., anyone predisposed to believe Dan Coffey’s denials of political intent, to ponder SIU’s transgression, when in fact the club has done nothing wrong at all.

To repeat, David Huckleberry has the right to speak freely on any topic he wishes, but when he is mistaken – as he is in this instance – it is neither an infringement of his free speech to point out the extent of his error, nor to note the zealous maliciousness of his intent in doing so.

Of oucrse, the same standard applies to the city’s elected officials, some of whom are presently engaged in open warfare against most prevailing standards of taste and decency, and we’ll have more to say on that topic as the week progresses.


Tim Deatrick said...

Better check the IRS regulations, 501c3 organizations may not lobby either, that is in the Federal Tax code.

Brandon W. Smith said...

Tim, as if you have ever picked up the Federal Tax Code in your entire life. Please.

I just happen to have a large chunk of it sitting right here next to me. Hmmm...let's see...it DOES say something about lobbying...but WAIT!

Since I'm not allowed to give legal or tax advice, I'll let the IRS do it for me:

Political and Lobying Activities from www.irs.gov

If you or Mr. Huckleberry would like to call in a tip to the IRS about the Soccer folks, here is the number:

1-800-829-0433 or better yet, walk into their office and report it:
600 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Place
Louisville, KY 40202

The New Albanian said...

Bzzzzzz Bzzzzzz Bzzzzz

Jeff Gillenwater said...

I was about to provide the same link that Brandon posted.

Instead, I'll offer the following excerpt from a Water Environment Federation document that further explains how the IRS measures "substantial" lobbying expenditures:

...changes brought about by the Tax Reform Act of 1976 created a new, more concrete approach for a 501(c) (3). Under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Sec. 501 (h), 501c3s may now choose an expenditure threshold under which lobbying is permissible as long as it does not exceed the threshold. This threshold is based on a sliding scale, with up to 20% of the first $500,000 of an organization's budget allowed for lobbying expenses. 15% of the next $500,000, 10% of funds between $1 million and $1.5 million, and 5% above $1.5 million may be used for lobbying. A ceiling of $1 million is imposed on c3 lobbying expenses.

Tim Deatrick said...

Sir as a former VP of the Southern Indiana Chamber of Commerce, and an Associate Director of Development for a 501C3 organization, I am well aware of what The IRS will allow regarding political and lobbying activites. I would suggest to the Soccer Club that they reincorporate as a 501C6 if they wish to continue lobbying the city council

Brandon W. Smith said...

Thanks, Jeff. I was going to post more, but I didn't think he would even read the initial link.

Brandon W. Smith said...

Argument by Appeal to Authority. I'm waiting for Ad Hominem.

The New Albanian said...

He's already used ad nauseum ... ad nauseum.

Brandon W. Smith said...

501(c)(6)??? Okay..just because this is fun AND don't get mad at me...you brought this up yourself:

Let's see...they aren't a non-profit:
1. Business league
2. Chamber of Commerce
3. Real-estate board
4. Board of trade or
5. Professional football league

How is it again that they are a 501(c)(6)?

I have spent enough grueling hours studying tax law to know that I am NOT an expert and certainly wouldn't go off making public statements about the status of a soccer club like Mr. Huckleberry did. That's simply irresponsible. Like I said...you guys know where to turn them in. DO IT and let the feds bust em!

curmudgeon said...

How can showing up at a public meeting, explaining a proposal, making a plea even...be regarded as "lobbying?"

I'm confused.

Tim Deatrick said...

when approaching the city council and asking them to support a proposed soccer complex and representing themselves as the Southern Indiana United Soccer Club, I think that could be labeled as lobbying;futhermore thier web site states very clearly to contact memebres of the city council, county council and county commissioners to support the soccer complex and they are circulating a petition drive at their saturday games, again activities that could be defined as lobbying.

Mr. Huckelberry is not questioning their ability to lobby only the amount that they may lobby as per IRS regulations. Perhaps the IRS does need to evaluate whether the soccer club has exceeded those limits?

Brandon W. Smith said...