Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dictionary of Republicanisms, from The Nation.

Kudos to Ed for sending NA Confidential this link to The Nation's "Dictionary of Republicanisms," compiled and introduced by Katrina vanden Heuvel.

Readers, this humorous exercise need not be limited to Republicanisms.

It's time for "NA Confidential's Dictionary of New Albaniaisms."

How would you define terms like these: Full audit, white chili, Siamese Councilmen, troglobyte, Gang of Four, EastdistEnded, mad as hell, Freedom Foie Gras, Trinkle Dome, Luddite Bar & Grill, potty police, golf cart, nickels and dimes, Trog Shaman ... the list is endless.

Send your entries to NAC's e-mail, or post in the comments section.


Over the past few decades, the radical right has engaged in a well-funded, self-conscious program of Orwellian doublespeak, transforming the American political discourse to suit its ends. Think tanks like the Cato Institute routinely market phrases for their political resonance, like "personal" vs. "private" accounts. Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, lexicographer and MSNBC pundit who combines Madison Avenue techniques with K Street connections, sends out regular missives informing Republican operatives and politicians on how to spin conservative policy proposals. (He was on The Daily Show demonstrating his talents, defining "manipulation" as "explanation and education.") Paul Wolfowitz admitted to Vanity Fair that "weapons of mass destruction" was agreed upon as the reason to go to war with Iraq because it was the most salable rationale. And we all know how that turned out.

Before we can win the great battle of ideas, we must debunk the right's political discourse, a veritable code of encrypted language that twists common usage to deceive the public for the Republicans' purposes. The key to their linguistic strategy is to use words that sound moderate to us but mean something completely different to them. Their tactics range from the childish use of antonyms ("clean" = "dirty") to the pseudo-academic use of prefixes ("neo" is a favorite) to the pernicious and very expensive rebranding of traditional labels ("liberal" as an insult).

We decided we needed to break the code by building a Republican dictionary. Skewer their deceptions with the fine-tipped sword of satire. Lies melt away in the face of mockery.

Unlike Republicans, who rely on rich old cranks and intellectuals-for-hire to do their dirty work, we opened up the process to the people. For six months, accepted suggestions from everyone who wanted to participate. The result was an overwhelming grassroots groundswell of hilarious submissions from citizens who are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore. Thousands of definitions were entered from all over the country, forty-four states in all, along with Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. (We even received a few from outraged Canadians, Australians and Brits.)

As momentum for the project grew, friends and allies joined the effort. asked its readers and writers to submit their own definitions. Reviewing the submissions from our website, we found that certain trends became apparent. "Compassionate conservative" and "ownership society" were the most popular targets. "No Child Left Behind" was the most common riff. The disaster in Iraq was the subject of the most outrage. The results have been compiled in a new book, Dictionary of Republicanisms (Nation Books). Here are some of my favorites. I hope they inspire you to action, to take back this great nation from those who are doing it such harm.

abstinence-only sex education n.
Ignorance-only sex education [Wayne Martorelli, Lawrenceville, NJ].

alternative energy sources n.
New locations to drill for gas and oil [Peter Scholz, Fort Collins, Colo.].

bankruptcy n.
A punishable crime when committed by poor people but not corporations [Beth Thielen, Studio City, Calif.].

"burning bush" n.
A biblical allusion to the response of the President of the United States when asked a question by a journalist who has not been paid to inquire [Bill Moyers, New York, NY].

Cheney, Dick n.
The greater of two evils [Jacob McCullar, Austin, Tex.].

China n.
See Wal-Mart [Rebecca Solnit, San Francisco, Calif.].

class warfare n.
Any attempt to raise the minimum wage [Don Zweir, Grayslake, Ill.].

climate change n.
The blessed day when the blue states are swallowed by the oceans [Ann Klopp, Princeton, NJ].

compassionate conservatism n.
Poignant concern for the very wealthy [Lawrence Sandek, Twin Peaks, Calif.].

creationism n.
Pseudoscience that claims George W. Bush's resemblance to a chimpanzee is totally coincidental [Brian Sweeney, Providence, RI].

DeLay, Tom n.
1. Past tense of De Lie [Rick Rodstrom, Los Angeles, Calif.]. 2.
Patronage saint [Andrew Magni, Nonatum, Mass.].

democracy n.
A product so extensively exported that the domestic supply is depleted [Michael Schwartz, unknown].

dittohead n.
An Oxy(contin)moron [Zydeco Boudreaux, Gretna, La.].

energy independence n.
The caribou witness relocation program [Justin Rezzonico, Keene, Ohio].

extraordinary rendition n.
Outsourcing torture [Milton Feldon, Laguna Woods, Calif.].

faith n.
The stubborn belief that God approves of Republican moral values despite the preponderance of textual evidence to the contrary [Matthew Polly, Topeka, Kans.].

Fox News fict.
Faux news [Justin Rezzonico, Keene, Ohio].

free markets n.
Halliburton no-bid contracts at taxpayer expense [Sean O'Brian, Chicago, Ill.].

girly men n.
Males who do not grope women inappropriately [Nick Gill, Newton, Mass.].

God n.
Senior presidential adviser [Martin Richard, Belgrade, Mont.].
growth n. 1. The justification for tax cuts for the rich. 2. What happens to the national debt when Republicans cut taxes on the rich [Matthew Polly, Topeka, Kans.].

habeas corpus n. Archaic.
(Lat.) Legal term no longer in use (See Patriot Act) [Josh Wanstreet, Nutter Fort, WV].

healthy forest n.
No tree left behind [Dan McWilliams, Santa Barbara, Calif.].

homelandism n.
A neologism for love of the Homeland Security State, as in "My Homeland, 'tis of thee, sweet security state of liberty..." [Tom Engelhardt, New York, NY].

honesty n.
Lies told in simple declarative sentences--e.g., "Freedom is on the march" [Katrina vanden Heuvel, New York, NY].

House of Representatives n.
Exclusive club; entry fee $1 million to $5 million (See Senate) [Adam Hochschild, San Francisco, Calif.].

laziness n.
When the poor are not working [Justin Rezzonico, Keene, Ohio].

leisure time n.
When the wealthy are not working [Justin Rezzonico, Keene, Ohio].

liberal(s) n.
Followers of the Antichrist [Ann Wegher, Montello, Wisc.].

Miller, Zell n.
The man who shot and killed Alexander Hamilton after a particularly tough interview on Hardball [Drew Dillion, Arlington, Va.].

neoconservatives n.
Nerds with Napoleonic complexes [Matthew Polly, Topeka, Kans.].

9/11 n.
Tragedy used to justify any administrative policy, especially if unrelated (See Deficit, Iraq War) [Dan Mason, Durham, NH].

No Child Left Behind riff.
1. v. There are always jobs in the military [Ann Klopp, Princeton, NJ]. 2. n. The rapture [Samantha Hess, Cottonwood, Ariz.].

ownership society n.
A civilization where 1 percent of the population controls 90 percent of the wealth [Michael Albert, Piscataway, NJ].

Patriot Act n.
1. The pre-emptive strike on American freedoms to prevent the terrorists from destroying them first. 2. The elimination of one of the reasons why they hate us [Michael Thomas, Socorro, NM].

pro-life adj.
Valuing human life up until birth [Kevin Weaver, San Francisco, Calif.].

Senate n.
Exclusive club; entry fee $10 million to $30 million [Adam Hochschild, San Francisco, Calif.].

simplify v.
To cut the taxes of Republican donors [Katrina vanden Heuvel, New York, NY].

staying the course interj. Slang.
Saying and doing the same stupid thing over and over, regardless of the result [Suzanne Smith, Ann Arbor, Mich.].

stuff happens interj. Slang.
Donald Rumsfeld as master historian [Sheila and Chalmers Johnson, San Diego, Calif.].

voter fraud n.
A significant minority turnout [Sue Bazy, Philadelphia, Pa.].

Wal-Mart n.
The nation-state, future tense [Rebecca Solnit, San Francisco, Calif.].

water n.
Arsenic storage device [Joy Losee, Gainesville, Ga.].

woman n.
1. Person who can be trusted to bear a child but can't be trusted to decide whether or not she wishes to have the child. 2. Person who must have all decisions regarding her reproductive functions made by men with whom she wouldn't want to have sex in the first place [Denise Clay, Philadelphia, Pa.].

UPDATED: Say it ain't so, (Dan, Bill, Steve, Larry) ... you've given Trog Sham(an) a pain in the Rumpke.

The tumescent screenplay goes something like this:

In a startlingly inept attempt to disseminate false intelligence and discredit the current administration, or more likely just seeking to bedazzle a tiny cadre of non-discerning and perpetually disgruntled malcontents, a member of the New Albany city council hoists a flagrant whopper about sanitation bids up an innuendo-greased flagpole, whereupon it is seized with a fury not unlike that displayed by the piranha when sensing raw meat, and breathlessly reported as “fact” by a guileless fellow traveler, who naturally just happens to be the resident jolly rancher at a neighboring spitwad blogyard, and who eventually concedes under pressure that she gleaned the falsehood not from Tribune, as she initially maintained, but from one or perhaps more council persons (well, she uses the plural, doesn’t she, but then again, grammar never was a strong suit), then as quickly as humanly possible executes a 180-degree turn and changes the subject to the conspiratorial implications of two failed gasoline purchases (out of dozens monthly).

Small wonder the outside world laughs at us, and we're not talking giggles, folks. It's sustained, hearty laughter.

Consciously echoing Maury’s words yesterday at his blog: As a public service, NA Confidential has gathered together (in chronological order, save for one) all the relevant comments and writings.

Perhaps the Tribune might find room on its editorial page for the slightest mention of such controversies, which after all impact the local community in ways that syndicated and slobbering right-wing National Review screeds can’t really hope to achieve, especially when the Che-as-repugnant-sales-item idea has already been done to death (and better, we might add).

Part I:
In the “Comments” section of a Speak Out Loud NA article entitled, “Coming, To a Town Near You (real near),” Laura Oates wrote:

Despite accusations of "flawed information", the contract for privatizing sanitation services has been awarded to Rumpke. This was posted in the Legals of the Friday Tribune.

(4:03 PM, Sunday, November 27, 2005)


Part II:
In a Volunteer Hoosier article entitled, “Credibility Gap,” Randy Smith wrote:

Anonymous rumor-mongering is one thing, but the operator of the pink blog has taken her credibility quotient down yet another notch. I would have thought that impossible, but indeed she not only floated another conspiracy theory, backed by her "fact" that the contract for sanitation services in New Albany has already been awarded in advance of the Board of Public Works and Safety meeting set for tomorrow.

She attempted to back her claim by asserting that the award announcement was published in the "legals" classified section of The Tribune on Friday. When challenged on her assertion, she restated it, defending herself against the charge she was disseminating false information. Here, verbatim, is her insistent defense that she is NOT wrong

....Despite accusations of 'flawed information', the contract for privatizing sanitation services has been awarded to Rumpke. This was posted in the Legals of the Friday Tribune...(signed) east ender.

What possible motive would she have for making and re-making such an outlandish claim, then further attempting to fool her readers by referring to a nonexistent newspaper notice?

Speculate at will.

For affirmation of the untruth of her allegation, which would have raised numerous objections from this quarter had it turned out to be true, note that the Friday Tribune legals were published on page B5. I have a crisp $100 bill for anyone who can show me the "legal" to which east ender is referring. Trust me folks, it ain't there.

But then, if your aim in life is to cast aspersions, I suppose it was worth the risk to her to bluff it out. When paranoia rules your life, and you stop taking your meds, truth loses out.

By the way, the BPW&S will be opening bids to supply gasoline at Tuesday's meeting, and that is noted in the legals for Friday.

(12:23 PM, Monday, November 28, 2005)


Part III:
(Again) in the "Comments" section of the same SOLNA article entitled, “Coming, To a Town Near You (real near),” Laura Oates wrote:

Dear Readers,
I must make a correction regarding information that I posted here about Rumpke and the Sanitation privatization contract.
This info was actually disseminated verbally by Council members.
The legal ad in the Tribune was a request for gasoline credit for the City.
Since I knew that Thornton's had just denied the City credit cards to refuel the sanitation trucks, this news was confusing.
Both issues were relayed to me in the same conversation, and in my astonishment about both situations, I mixed up the sources. My mistake.
However, the real news here is the fact that drivers of 2 sanitation trucks were told, in Thorntons, that the fuel credit card was denied.
According to CM Kochert, the Police use the same fuel cards as Sanitation. Where does this leave us? What are they doing for gas?

(7:01 PM, November 28, 2005)


Part IV:

In a Volunteer Hoosier article entitled, “If She's Innocent, Who's Guilty?,” Randy Smith wrote:

By now, the New Albany Board of Public Works & Safety, Mayor Garner, and City Attorney Shane Gibson will have in hand all the submissions for operating the household refuse collection services for 2006.

But there sure seems to be a lot of sub rosa maneuvering going on. The Gang of Four are up to the same old dirty tricks again. When told last spring that there was a hole in the ship that is New Albany, the gang proceeded to start digging holes in the keel. When a sail needed hoisting, they cut the lines.

Now, we discover the allegation that one or more city council members is tampering with the sanitation contract, claiming to have secret knowledge of the unknowable.

Every bidder, and every resident of this city, is entitled to a bidding process that is fair. These bids were sealed, and opened only this morning. Yet, the manager of the pink blog claims to know in advance not only the low bidder, but the winning bidder.

But she claims not to have personal knowledge, but rather, knowledge secretly passed to her by a member of the city council.

We know her facts are lies. What we don't know is who the liar is. Is Laura Oates the liar? She did retract her false report, but only in part. Apparently, she still maintains the truth of her assertion, but "apologizes" for the authority she cited.

Now, she is alleging felonious conduct on the part of a city council member. You can be sure the attorneys for those companies (and the union, if applicable) who fail to obtain the city sanitation contract, will want to know who that (those?) member(s) is (are).

Did BPW chairman Tony Toran impermissibly open these bids? Did another member of the board of works? Did a clerical employee tamper with sealed bids? Did a city council member use undue pressure on some lowly city employee to obtain knowledge of the bid specifics?

I am myself satisfied that the bid packages themselves were not tampered with. But I'm not the judge and jury on that. Mr. Toran's ethics are above reproach, smears and slanders notwithstanding. No city employee would risk their job and risk jail time to leak information to a city council member about sealed bids.

Therefore, there are only two possibilities. Oates is lying. Or her sources lied to her.

The lie is exposed. The attempt to interfere with the bid process is a felony. The question is, who committed the felony - Oates or the elected official? Disinterested speculation as to who might be the "favorite," and even journalistic digging to ferret out from the bidders their proposals would be permissible, if unhelpful, but when an elected official pretends to have inside information and spreads that around, it is clear malfeasance and grounds for removal from office.

The potential for bidders being extorted into shading their bids, or the potential to deter present and future bidders from participating in a sham process, are serious violations of the public trust. New Albany needs for its bid processes to be not only clean, but to appear to be clean, too.

I believe that the next city council meeting is the time for each member of the city council to come clean. While we're at it, let's interrogate Mr. Toran and the rest of the BoW to see where the truth lies. While denials by all nine won't necessarily implicate Oates as anything other than a gullible tool, it could be the lie that ends a political career.

If, as I suspect, the member(s) believe themselves fully justified in either a) engaging in felonious tampering or b) extortion of bidders, they should step forward and explain themselves to the council, and to the people.

Beyond the legal ramifications, which may have deterred the union from submitting a legal bid, it was a cruel lie to dump on the employees of the sanitation department on a holiday weekend. For those to whom Ms. Oates has credibility, it only poured fuel on the fire. But come to think of it, that was probably the motive. Too bad the political gamesmanship crossed the threshold to criminal malfeasance.

In this instance, I believe Ms. Oates. Will Keith Henderson?

(1:28 PM, Tuesday, November 29, 2005)


Part V:
In the “Comments” section of SOLNA and Volunteer Hoosier, the Board of Public Works and Safety’s Steve LaDuke wrote:

I just hope I can clear up a few things here. Everyone is entitled to their opinions but I like to follow through with a little fact every once in a while.

The BOW DID have an agenda this morning and it was followed. Kay reported on the gas/credit card issue during the "comments from staff" portion of the meeting. I do believe she addressed the issue of wanting to clear up a rumor that was being spread around. It is my understanding that a Sanitation Vehicle had filled up with gas and the card was denied. At that point a call was made to the fleet company, a copy of the outstanding bill was faxed to the city and the bill was promptly paid. I have no idea how the workers paid for the gas they had already pumped. I didn't think to ask. I did ask Kay about the Sanitation and Police Dept. use of the fleet account since someone suggested the Sanitation Dept. may be paying for the Police Depts. gas. Both Sanitation and Police Depts. use the fleet account but they have different account numbers so the billing is kept completely seperate. Now, about credit card bills being sent and paid. I own a company that has fleet gas accounts and, believe it or not, there have been times when the exact same thing has happened to me. I was getting gas a couple of years ago at the BP on Grantline Rd. and my card was denied. When I checked with my office, we had not received a bill for that month. The Fleet company faxed a bill, the bill was paid and we went on about our business. Another time, I was filling my tank and my card was denied. The problem this time was that gas prices had risen so much that our limit had been reached before the end of the month. One simple call and our limit was raised and the account was re-opened. So you see, things do happen and yes I know some people don't pay bills but I honsetly don't think that is what happened here.

Now, the Sanitation Bids. I was the BOW member who opened the SEALED bids during the meeting today. I can assure you that all bids were sealed when they were handed to me at the start of the meeting and all were still sealed when I began the process of opening bids. This person who said they "knew" the winning bid must have been David Copperfield but, last time I checked he's not a council person. As a matter of fact, I checked with the City yesterday at around 3:30 P.M. At that point, only one bid had been turned in. The other bids were turned in to the city sometime this morning before the BOW meeting. We ended up with 5 sealed envelopes and 4 bids. One envelope contained a letter informing the city they would not be submitting a bid. So, with that being said, the bids were opened PUBLICLY and the bids were taken under advisement. The opened bids were then displayed on a table so anyone who wanted to look through them could. The bids stayed available for at least a half an hour after the meeting ended until the interested parties had left the room.

I do hope this clears up a couple of issues. Keep in mind, there seems to be one or two Council members who like to let people think they know information ahead of time or they hear a bit of this and a piece of that and then JUMP to a conclusion only to find out the real story later.


Steve LaDuke

(5:22:40 PM, Tuesday, November 29, 2005)


Part VI:
In a New Albany Today article entitled, “Breaking News,” Maury Goldberg wrote:

Today at the Board of Public Works and Safety meeting, the bids to undertake delivering Sanitation Services for the City of New Albany were opened.

The following entities bid:
1) The Sanitation Department's Union
2) Republic Service-ID
3) Rumpke
4) Clark-Floyd Landfill

The bids were taken under advisement, and the winning bidder will be announced in the future.

(4:11:00 PM, Tuesday, November 29, 2005)


Part VII:

In the "Comments" section of the Volunteer Hoosier article entitled, “If She's Innocent, Who's Guilty?,” Randy Smith wrote:

Is collusion part of this equation?

I'll reiterate my offer of $100, this time as a wager. Not only will Rumpke NOT be the prevailing bidder for the city's sanitation contract, but there is absolutely no doubt that the PLANTED RUMORS were indubitably untrue.

Did you know Rumpke only submitted its bid at 9:58 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2005?

How in God's green earth could ANYONE suggest that the Rumpke bid had been awarded if the bid had not even been submitted?

Visitors from the trog blog, no matter your identification with Ms. Oates and her erratic integrity and promiscuous allegiances, her disassociative behavior and her proclivity for conspiracy theories, you must admit that her reliability as a source or truth is suspect.

Someone has been taking advantage of the scant attention paid to the affairs of this city. Someone has relied on this passivity, this tendency to pay attention to the affairs of the city only during the first few days of November every four years, to continue this city's slow decline.

No matter your personal animosities toward this author, you must admit that SOMEONE is trying to fool you.

I submit that your own devoted Gang of Four, which consists of veteran council members Dan Coffey (1st District), Bill Schmidt (2nd District), and Larry Kochert (4th District), and willing tool 3rd District tyro and "presentee landlord" Steve Price are engaged in a conspiracy to continue New Albany's decline.

All but a spartan few in Floyd County concede that these indubitably ignorant and regressive personages are the key progenitors of the tendency of New Albany toward decline.

Wake up!

Your affinity for conspiracy seems to exclude the possibility that three veteran council members, along with their submissive vassal, are the epitome of decline, the continuing regressivity that holds New Albany back.

How can any sane person attribute the problems of New Albany to the other five first-time council members and a first-term mayor?

Assuredly, no one can reasonably expect even a minuscule constitituency such as that of the "Trog Blog" to pay even the slightest attention to entreaties from the progressive faction of this city, the constituency for progress (or even the Constituency for Progress) to open your eyes.

But one, two, or three of you are, even now, are considering the possibility that the Gang of Four are not, in fact, your champions, but in fact, your enemies.

They are calculating POLITICIANS who rely on your passivity and disconnectedness to further their nefarious goals.

Who has tried to kill YOUR city? The guys who have been in power for years? Or the new guys?

I don't pretend to know what motivates the supporters of the Gang of Four. The reasons escape me.

But the motivations of that very Gang are clear. They are self-interested, and irredeemable. Their contempt for their constituency is palpable and obvious.

Consider carefully with whom you conspire. Consider carefully with whom you identify.

Whether you believe it or not, WE (whether that be this writer, or those who join with us) share your commitment to root out corruption. We will not hesitate to condemn TRUE corruption, no matter who might be offended.

We have made a rational evaluation of the persons and policies espoused by those persons who currently occupy the offices of this city. We are not naifs. We are not easily buffaloed.

There is a common purpose. Many have asked me just exactly what the ubiquitous yard signs "Clean Up New Albany" mean.

It is not my place to appropriate the original and perfectly innocuous purpose intended by its originators. We (those who display this sign) advocate a city environment and regulatory regime that encourages (and if necessary compels) a livable city.

But if anyone cares to attribute a grander vision of accountable and open government to such sentiments, who am I to demur?

(1:50:57 AM, Wednesday, November 30, 2005)

Part VIII:

Other sources provide further background and comment on the preceding.

New Albany gets four trash bids; City hopes to save through privatization, by Alex Davis (Wednesday, November 30, 2005; short shelf life for Courier-Journal links).

In a Diggin’ in the Dirt article entitled, Yeah, I Know, Nobody Asked My Opinion, Ann Streckfus comments (Wednesday, November 30, 2005).

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Storm Water Advisory Committee update.

(The following is contributed by Tim Deatrick).

The Storm Water Advisory Committee met last night to review the proposed illicit discharge ordinance and reached a 100% consensus to recommend the ordinance to the sewer board and the city council in the month of December. The ordinance is the first of four that are required under Rule 13.

The committee also began discussions on the construction runoff control ordinance and was informed by a staff member of the Floyd County Soil and Water Conservation District on the county's approach to this issue. The SWAC will meet again on December 27th to make final recommendations regarding the construction runoff ordinance.

According to Mark McCormick of FMSM, the engineering firm advising the city on the storm water program, the city is making great progress in meeting the May 2006 permit deadline and that IDEM is positive about the city's milestones being reached, particularly the recent adoption of the interim fee that allowed the city to move the storm water program forward. Mark shared with the committee the progress that has been made in assessing impervious surface calculations for commercial properties, a major sticking point with councilman Kochert.

Committee members attending were Dutch Vigar, John Gonder, Paul Hanka and Melanie Hughes; absent was Yvonne Kersey. City Councilman Jack Messer was also in attendance as an observer.

Taking risks to restore neighborhoods -- one block at a time.

Q: What is a Rybby?
A: A Risk-taking Young Baltimorean.

Emphatically, the “risk” referred to in this context is not a component of anti-social behavior or violence.

Rather, it is profoundly social – profoundly human, embracing all the virtues (and probably some of the vices) entailed by our natures.

Huge thanks to frequent reader Dana L., who alerts NA Confidential to the saga of Adam Meister, an urban homesteader with a grassroots plan to revitalize the Baltimore inner city, “one block at a time.”

This may be old news to some, but it’s brand new to NAC.

It transpires that the twenty-something Meister was renting an apartment in Baltimore in 2001, and unable to afford a house in the already gentrified areas of downtown Baltimore, he began instead to search the most neglected parts of the innermost inner city for prospects.

Soon Meister realized that there were incredibly low prices on houses to be found, but in drug-infested, crime-ridden neighborhoods, and the idea came to him to reclaim one such block by convincing others to join him in buying and renovating properties.

Safety in numbers, as it were.

In 2003, Meister purchased a three-story row house in the Reservoir Hill district – formerly a wealthy neighborhood where his grandmother lived during childhood -- for a mere $41,000. He flogged his web site, distributed leaflets, relentlessly networked, and began a neck-deep trek through the city's bureaucracy while working a day job, restoring his house and helping others to do the same.

Two years later, enough Rybbys have been found to fill 13 houses on Meister’s original target block, and the idea has mutated in numerous directions entirely unforeseen in the beginning.

The new arrivals, mostly white professionals, have tried with general success to get along with their underprivileged neighbors, mostly minorities, who were living in Reservoir Hill before it became a cause celebre.

Imagine the diplomatic skills necessary to convince the family across the street that you weren’t referring to them as the unsafe elements spurring the “strength in numbers” equation, and that your honest intent is to assist in the re-establishment of a neighborhood, not to raise values and price them out of a home.

Consequently, to judge by the transparent sincerity of Meister’s sprawling, evolving web site, he spends a disproportionate amount of time repelling profiteers and short-term residents who’re in it for the possible payback.

In her e-mail to NAC, Dana wrote:

This group of people appears to be affecting some change and whether or not they can claim true success, I admire this guy's dream, passion, courage, and tenacity.

That says it – warts and all. The qualities Dana points to are the ones that sustain the true visionaries when their noble aims collide with the grubby realities of the workaday world of imperfection and weirdness.

Here are the links to the rest of the story.

Adam Meister’s web site.

Story in the Christian Science Monitor. (photo credit to the CSM)

Story in the Baltimore alternative press.

Monday, November 28, 2005

UPDATED: Hey, Concern Taxpayer, grab your Kodak Brownie and join NAC for an earthshaking historical moment.

I’ve been waiting a long time to return to this story, so bear with me.

Way back in early May, the cowardly, hooded, and profoundly ungrammatical troglodyte calling him/her/itself Concern Taxpayer told a lie about me, falsely alleging that prior to a City-Council meeting, he/she/it saw me emerge from Mayor Garner’s office in the company of a prominent local bookseller.

Excuse me "Roger"- who was the two men walking out of Mayor Garner's office on Monday night before City Council Meeting. None other than you Mr. Baylor and your side kick "Kojak". (he must of ran outta lolly pops).

To no one’s surprise, it was a blatant and baseless fib, and one that Congeal Taxpayer never bothered to correct, even after I responded to his/her/its challenge and disproved the mistruth in writing, concluding:

Just as plagiarism is an abuse of the responsibility that accompanies free speech, so is lying, and by the terms of your challenge, I’ve proven that you lied.

Since then, Confound Taxpayer has surfaced periodically at the lunatic periphery of the Luddite Bar & Grill’s potty-fixated spitwad blogyard, generally infuriated at his/her/its inability to emulate the fictional John Galt by stopping the motor of New Albany’s world, his/her/its purple veins bulging, spouting monochromatic nonsense, regurgitating invented half-truths and perpetuating spiteful innuendo, and pursuing his/her/its series of vendettas of the millisecond with the illiterate fury of raw insignificance scorned.

Well, Contour Taxpayer, today is your lucky day.

As of Monday morning, November 28 at 8:00 a.m., I finally will have entered the Mayor’s office – not just strolled past it or gazed into it through the plate glass window, but actually walked through the doorway, which quite correctly implies that, yes, alert trogarazzi like yourself finally will have the chance to see me “walking out” of it.

Of course, Confuse Taxpayer, my much belated inaugural trip to the Mayor’s office doesn’t change the fact that you’re as much of a liar today as you were when you invented the previous non-factual account of the visit I never made, but because I intend to take pictures of the blessed event, I’ll send you a copy suitable for framing, and you can hang it alongside your autographed lyrics of “Trog Sham(an)’s Blues.”

By the way, if you send me one of your crayons, I’ll sign it -- at no extra charge.

I know exactly what you’re thinking, Conceal Taxpayer: Why am I carrying my quadruple espresso into the Mayor’s office so early on a Monday morning?

I suppose I could tell you, but knowing how much you enjoy inventing facts of your own … well, by golly, feel free to lie yet again to your little people’s heart’s content and just make it up out of whole cloth.

Monday morning photo update:

Here's the panoramic view from the Inner Sanctum, looking out into the famous hallway where Trog Sham lurks during City Council meetings, cupping her ears to the glass, hoping for a wee scrap of information to misinterpret.

(Pssst ... don't tell Combust Taxpayer, but I didn't actually exit from this door. I reentered the hallway from the Sewer Department door ... hee hee).

Hiding your lying eyes: CONCERN TAXPAYER, this one's for you.

Classic quotes from the Luddite urinal "Dead Pee Scrolls":
"Then Shame On Every Damn One Of Us!" ... Concern Taxpayer, 6:06 AM, September 16, 2005.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

To Heck with the Sunday Tribune's editorial page.

Promises to the contrary, confusion and underachievement continue to be the orders of the day in the mysterious land known hereabouts as Tribune Editorial Page Injudiciously Determined (TEPID), as a mere three articles occupy Sunday’s "Opinions" area, each of them “guest” commentaries, and consequently none written by the newspaper’s own staff members.

Looking at the bright side, two of the three commentaries come from local writers.

Occupying the editorial slot is a “guest column” by Sister Barbara Ann Zeller, president of the Providence House for Children, who describes programs, goals and activities at her campus.

Just below the wire service cartoon is weekly “guest columnist” Terry Cummins’s consideration of “whether the male species should be exterminated,” which is rendered in his customarily humorous and thoughtful manner.

The last commentary on today’s Tribune editorial/opinion page is a bilious partisan embarrassment entitled, “Judicial activists trying to rewrite history,” and is attributed to “guest columnist” Peter W. Heck.

While it may seem at first glance innocuous – just another dazed fundamentalist crankcase like the Mullah Goebel hemorrhaging revisionist bilge as he advocates the establishment of genuine, American-style theocratic intolerance by casually misinterpreting our nation’s history – this glaring bit of Christian propaganda comes to Tribune readers from a professional agenda-setter, albeit one who resides somewhere in the wilds of red-state Indiana.

Peter W. Heck’s web site (, not as the Tribune inaccurately reckons it) trumpets Heck as the “The Voice of the Christian Conservative Right.”

Therein Heck asks, “What kind of God is the God of Christianity?”

Is He like the god of Islam who is so capricious and unpredictable? No. Is He like the god of the new age who is an impersonal force existing in the cosmos? No. Is He the god of the Deists who got bored with his creation and wandered off somewhere never to have further relationship with humankind? No ...

And so on. If the Tribune is looking for unabashedly evangelical tracts contributed by fanatics, certainly there’s a local like-minded minister who could contribute weekly calls to prayer, courtesy of CNHI … but wait; such advertisements already occupy two to three pages of the generally barren Saturday edition of the newspaper.

As befits a self-proclaimed voice of the right, politics dominate Heck’s list of recommended web links:

SEAN HANNITY - Get Hannitized--now more than ever.
RUSH LIMBAUGH - The best at what he does ... period.
HERITAGE FOUNDATION - Premiere conservative think tank.

Does anyone have a bucket?

Who at the ‘Bune do we have to thank for this veritable Watchtower of a commentary -- the previous editorial regime or the incoming reformers?

(We duly note that Chris Morris’s name is gone from the editorial/opinion masthead, replaced as “managing editor” by Shea Van Hoy, with whom we are unfamiliar. Chris is identified as “regional editor” on the Tribune’s page-four roster, and we confess to not knowing the implications of this change).

Taking it a step further, will equal column inches be afforded those in the community who favor a pluralistic, reason-based society in which freedom from Christianity is as viable and protected an option as prayer -- as opposed to the sort of cornpone Hoosier Inquisition favored by Heck and his ilk?

Might long-suffering readers – at least those who can read at a level beyond the elementary/Sunday school norm – please receive the priceless Christmas gift of an immediate delineation of the opinion page into separate editorial and opinion sections, with something approximating an editorial policy, and some semblance of balance to the Heckian extremism appearing in today’s newspaper?

Less than 30 days remain until Christmas, Mr. Tucker. Today was a step backwards.

The East Spring Street Neighborhood Association invites you to ...

... “Light Up the Neighborhood”

(From the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association, to those residing within the ESNA's boundaries)

Once again, it’s the time of year to show your holiday spirit by decorating your house for the holidays!

The best-decorated house will win $100 courtesy of the New Albanian Brewing Company.

Help us to brighten up the neighborhood! Dig out those strings of light or just put a candle in the window. Judging will be held on Thursday evening, December 1st.

Also, don't forget ESNA's “Celebration of the Season.” Please join us on Thursday, December 1st, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Pyke-Calloway Funeral Home at 1217 East Spring Street as we get together in the holiday spirit. Refreshments will be served.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Sometimes it's embarrassing to be an American.

Up at 4:00 a.m. -- to go shopping.

Shoppers beat sunlight to find bargains, by Kyle Lowry (New Albany Tribune).

“At 4 o’clock there were two great big lines up to the doors,” Mayfield said. “Now, there are lines around the entire store to check out. It’s pretty crazy.”

Unbelievable, but then again, materialism being the true faith of our fathers ...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Drop everything you're doing and go see Good Night, and Good Luck.

Last evening at the Baxter Avenue Cinemas, a disappointed patron was overheard lamenting the sad fact that his Thanksgiving choice of a film proved to be “all special effects and no story.”

Not so for Mr. And Mrs. Confidential, who viewed George Clooney’s skillful and thought-provoking Good Night, and Good Luck, and considered going back for an immediate second helping.

Simply stated, it’s too bad all movies can’t be this good.

Clooney might have subtitled his second directorial effort “The High Price of Low Brow in a Purportedly Free Society.” As reviewers far and wide have accurately noted, the film is far more than a well-executed, black-and-while period piece depicting the crusading journalistic hero (Edward R. Murrow) against the drunken, red-baiting political villain (Joseph McCarthy).

Rather, the drama is profoundly sketched in shades of gray, asking many more questions than it attempts to answers, and boldly challenging the viewer to engage in discussion and contemplation entirely apart from gratuitous sex, gun battles, car chases, sci-fi fairy tales and other preferred modes of Hollywood mass-market entertainment.

Given the urgent contemporary relevance of Good Night, and Good Luck’s insightful explication of "Media 101: Entertainment vs. News," the film truly transcends the escapist fare crowding theater screens this holiday season, and deserves to be tagged a must-see.

Previously at NA Confidential:

George Clooney's “Good Night, and Good Luck” will lure NA Confidential to the multiplex.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Beer to go with your Thanksgiving meal.

Crossposted at the Potable Curmudgeon beer blog.

At noon today, my wife, my mother, two aunts, one uncle, a cousin and the Curmudgeon gathered for a holiday buffet meal of turkey and the familiar fixings, served within the venerable confines of Tommy Lancaster’s Restaurant, a downtown New Albany institution that might have been considered a trendsetter during the Kennedy administration and hasn’t done much to alter this time-tested winning formula ever since.

But that’s all well and good, and not to be construed as criticism. Tommy’s does what it does, just like downtown New Albany’s other hoary survivor, the South Side Inn, and if Betty Crockery-style Imperial American 1950’s Era grub is what you seek, these are two prime practitioners of it will serve it up to you at a reasonable price, with paneled ambience to match.

During my second (and final) trip through the chow line, I noticed an elderly gentleman nursing a Miller Lite.

At first suppressing a shudder, it then occurred to me that matching bland beer to bland food seems perfectly reasonable in the context of sensory deprivation … but how would the true beer enthusiast – as opposed to America’s sadly ubiquitous Swillocrats – reckon the suitability of beer choices to accompany the ideal Thanksgiving feast?

When it comes to choosing wine for the Thanksgiving table, Bob Johnson writes:

Some - including my Wine Lines colleague, Glen Frederiksen - will tell you that a rich, buttery Chardonnay is the best white wine because it mirrors the rich flavors found in such holiday fare as mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and, of course, turkey.

Others will proffer that the only red wine to choose is Pinot Noir, because its cherry, cranberry and spice notes so nicely complement the myriad side dishes found on the Turkey Day table.

And still others believe in the "anything goes" philosophy, basically inferring that because there are so many disparate flavors on the holiday table, it would be impossible for a single wine to provide total pairing pleasure.

The truth is that virtually all of the arguments have merit, and there is no single answer that trumps all others.

Beer, not wine?

I favor the full-flavored approach, one that resembles the Pinot Noir strategy of the wine lover. There are obvious Belgian parallels with the “cherry, cranberry and spice notes,” as is the case with McChouffe, Chimay Premiere (red) and Gouden Carolus Noel, to name just three.

From the German perspective, a fat mug of Doppelbock would hit the mark, especially if such a normally clean beer could be juiced with fruitiness – but wait, such a heavenly beer really does exist: Aventinus Wheat Doppelbock.

The hoppy American microbrews I love on an everyday basis just don’t strike me as good matches for the traditional dishes served at our stereotypical Beaver Cleaver Thanksgiving, but I’m betting that a Belgian-style Saison (Dupont, Glazen Toren, Hennepin) would be very compatible, with lightly hoppy dryness and peppery hints for accent.

For dessert? Perhaps an oversized Imperial Stout, designed to take the place of coffee, cream and pie (but not the after dinner cigar). At this moment in time, I’m enamored of Great Divide’s Oak-Aged Yeti and its creamy, vanilla-laced complexity.

Come to think of it, gotta run … there’s one in the fridge with the Curmudgeon’s name on it.

Downtown New Albany's "Holiday Homecoming" is tomorrow (Friday, November 25).

Here's the DNA announcment in its entirety. It sounds like fun, but it's also one of the busiest work days of the year for the Curmudgeon ...


Holiday Homecoming is Friday, November 25

What has been known as Light Up New Albany has a new look, a new location and a new name this year. The official kick-off of the holiday season will be held in the heart of downtown New Albany on Friday, Nov. 25 and will feature a craft bazaar, food, entertainment and much more, culminating with the arrival of Santa Claus at 5:30.

Revelers attending the “Holiday Homecoming” are encouraged to enjoy the day and bring a canned good or non-perishable item for Interfaith Community Council’s food pantry.

The event is the product of several sponsors, including Develop New Albany, the City of New Albany, the New Albany Historic Business District Association, the East Spring Neighborhood Association and J.O. Endris and Son Jewelers.

Everything takes place on Pearl Street between Market and Main, which will be closed for the day. A craft and merchant bazaar featuring florals, wreaths, homemade sweets and cheese spreads and much more will be held in the White House Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The New Albany-Floyd County Animal Shelter will be conducting dog and cat adoptions between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. at 221 Pearl St.

Entertainment begins with the Silvertoners at 2:15 p.m., followed by Kentuckiana Martial Arts Tae Kwon Do and Karate demonstrations at 3 p.m., Invitation to Dance at 3:45, and the Becky Seiler Dancers at 4:30.
Santa Claus arrives via New Albany Fire Engine at 5:30 p.m.

Beginning at 3 p.m., children will be able to register for a toy give-away and adults have the opportunity to win door prizes. City of New Albany employees will be serving chili and sandwiches and the Salvation Army canteen will be on hand with hot chocolate and coffee.

Those celebrating are also invited to visit downtown merchants, who will be open throughout the day. Explore the downtown’s antique, furniture, jewelry and specialty shops.

For more information call Develop New Albany at 941-0018.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Five news stories you may have missed.

The Evening News relocates portion of staff to New Albany, by Alex Davis (short shelf life for Courier-Journal links).

Facing a decline in circulation, the publisher of The Evening News in Jeffersonville is moving large portions of the paper's advertising and editorial staff to nearby New Albany.

NAC says: Publisher John Tucker's reform process keeps rolling forward. If only there could be similar progress on the Tribune's editorial page ... but we remain supportive and hopeful.

Lawyer: Return property to heirs; New Albany, residents battle in court over land, by Ben Zion Hershberg (short shelf life for Courier-Journal links).

Land given to New Albany 70 years ago for use as a public park or golf course should be returned to the donor's heirs because the deed requires it, a lawyer contended yesterday. The nonprofit Community Housing Development Organization, in cooperation with the city, has proposed using the site for an affordable-housing subdivision.

NAC says: Another worthy, community-based idea sinks slowly into the mire of partisan political wrangling as the outside world looks on in amazement, quite unable to comprehend New Albania's chosen squalor.

Smoking ban gets by Jeff Council; Mayor has reservations about speed of passage, by Larry Thomas (Evening News).

Jeffersonville’s proposed smoking ban passed the City Council by a 4-3 party-line vote during its final reading Monday, but Mayor Rob Waiz said he will need more information before deciding whether to sign the measure …

… “I hope Mayor Waiz will consider the other option,” said Libertarian Kirk Singh. “I would appreciate anything you can do to turn the power back to the people to run their own lives.”

NAC says: Mr. Singh is invited to present any available evidence to indicate that people in general are capable of running their own lives, at which point we’ll be happy to consider the various Libertarian proposals to dismantle the state and institute anarchy. Until such a time, is it humanly possible for there to be a spectacle more deliciously ironic than chain smokers merrily protesting limits on the spread of their disease-wracked addiction?

State closing doors on Silvercrest, by Roni Montgomery (Tribune).

Officials from the Indiana State Department of Health on Monday announced plans to close Silvercrest, a facility which cares for developmentally disabled, school-age children.

NAC says: Once the state has succeeded in evacuating the building, less than ten seconds will elapse before the property is sold to developers. Even exurbians like Gary McCartin might be interested -- which would be a fine reason to exclude them from the Silvercrest lottery out of general principle.

Judge orders historic home to be repaired; Georgetown house damaged by fire, by Ben Zion Hershberg (short shelf life for Courier-Journal links).

By ruling that the fire did not cause "major destruction," Special Judge Daniel Donahue essentially required that its exterior be repaired by owners Lynda Riggle Meyer and Charles Meyer under the terms of the preservation easement.

NAC says: We have obtained a copy of Judge Donahue’s Christmas wish list, and coming in at #1 (with a bullet) is a three-piece, fire-retardant suit, which may have something to do with his unique restraining order requiring all boxed matches and Bic lighters to remain one hundred yards away from the gutted home’s owners.

Props to VAB for an excellent Greenway forum.

Once upon a time, my friend Bob and I were bicycling through the lovely wooded hillsides of the Franconia region of Germany, and we stopped to soak up the countryside and look at a map. While doing so, we were overtaken by a group of five elderly men who we’d passed earlier in the day, before we had lost ground to them while pausing for a brief, restorative beer at one of the area’s many brewpubs.

All spoke English and were eager to exchange information about the immaculately signposted, maintained and dedicated bike route. In addition, as the precursor to a pattern we’ve observed so many times since, they were openly amazed to see Americans of any age riding bicycles in Germany.

It turns out that these well-heeled, multilingual and retired gentlemen were engaged in their 45th annual, several-hundred-mile-long, bike jaunt in celebration of their university graduating class, and in this instance were making the trip from Frankfurt to Kulmbach – carrying light rear panniers loaded with the basics, traveling 25 to 30 mildly strenuous miles a day, then stopping for hearty meals, local beers and a good night’s sleep at an inn or bed and breakfast.

I looked at them, calculated their approximate ages, and thought, “that’s what I want to do when I get to be that old – but why wait until then.”

Even now, five years later, I’m transfixed by the scene of these gracious, nonchalant, ruddy men enjoying a road trip’s worth of bicycling reunion time – and the five of them as utterly flabbergasted to see Americans riding bicycles for recreation as I was by the thought of my parents marking such an occasion by exercising in such a manner.

Valla Ann Bolovschak is New Albany’s recently appointed representative to the Greenway Commission, and last night she hosted a forum at the Grand to solicit opinions, suggestions and recommendations as to the future orientation of the Greenway, which in some way, shape or form will someday connect the cities of Jeffersonville, Clarksville and New Albany along the Ohio River.

It was a supremely educational evening for someone who admittedly has come late to the project’s conceptual basis, which was devised some time ago, but now to the casual observer seems somewhat out of touch with reality on the ground in the sense that it certainly must be wildly baseless to spend more than $40 million dollars to build a roadway for cars when most trends point in the direction of greater value derived from the recreational component of pedestrians and cyclists, and the manner that such value will be compounded as new economies evolve.

Naturally, it’s more complicated than all that, with considerations that include the competing aims of three cities, the unavoidable involvement of the Corps of Engineers, the profit motives of two different railroads, and the intriguing location right in the very center of the Greenway’s path of Al Goodman’s Loop Island Wetlands, which apparently was completely ignored when planners first plotted a $10 million dollar bridge to rip through what we now understand is as pristine a wilderness as we’re likely to find alongside the river in the middle of a major metropolitan area.

At roughly the halfway point of the loosely structured discussion, Valla Ann was about to poll those in attendance as to their views of the Greenway’s possible future as a link with a strictly limited role for motorized vehicles when Anna Schmidt, wife of councilman Bill Schmidt, interjected that to restrict the Greenway in such a fashion as not completing it by means of a bridge through the wetlands would be to shortchange elderly residents (and their grandchildren) by denying them easy access.

That’s when I thought of the five elderly Germans on their bicycles.

I thought of them again when Councilman Dan Coffey spoke about the need of making it easier for people to get across the levee from downtown to the river, noting that Scribner Place’s original design included a long ramp that would have eliminated the stairs currently required to gain a view of the river at the Trinkle Dome – and how hard it is to make that climb.

The whole point of the Greenway should be to reduce the presence of automobiles insofar as possible, increase the presence of walkers and cyclists insofar as possible, and allowing the boat club people to remain where they’ve always been.

The whole point of the Greenway is recreation, and there isn’t any reason for the elderly to be excluded from the Greenway or from the possibility of exercise, which in the end is a fairly healthy phenomenon.

Before you make the mistake of assuming that I’m about to launch one of NA Confidential’s famous tirades against the pronouncements of Coffey, Schmidt or the other councilman in attendance at the forum, Steve Price, then please think again.

I’m not, because they were there, at the forum, in attendance, taking part in the discussion about a project that represents progressivism at its best – yes, with Coffey and Price grandstanding a bit, because it’s in their blood, but for the most part being involved, listening, and showing interest.

The other City Council representatives … where were they?

There is reason for optimism. Reasonable solutions to the shortcomings of the current Greenway plan were offered, and numerous related ideas considered, and all in all, last night’s forum was among the most heavily thoughtful in content that I’ve experienced during the time of my responsiveness to civic issues. It’s much to Valla Ann’s credit that she organized the session, much to the credit of the Grand in hosting it, and much to the credit of the councilmen in attendance, along with city officials Scott Wood and Paul Wheatley.

As for the Chubby Checker quote … well, Ann, maybe I’m just in a good mood tonight, and will let that one pass. Just this once.

See also Greenway Forum Enlightening at the Diggin' in the Dirt blog.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Bad Elf freed in Connecticut ... but the "fight is definitely not over."

(Cross-posted at the Potable Curmudgeon beer blog)

In October, we first learned of a "criminally" Bad Elf wreaking havoc in the state of Connecticut: Importer and blue noses square off in Connecticut's Elf beer ban.

In short, state alcohol regulators refused to approve custom-designed labels on bottles of English-brewed special winter ale that referred to various misbehavin' and drinkin' elves.

As the riotously funny beer importer Dan Shelton reports on his importing company’s web site, there’s been a parole of sorts.

All right, so many of you now know that the State of Connecticut has seen the error of its ways and has agreed to approve our Christmas beer labels. Unfortunately for the good people of Connecticut, they still may not be able to buy these beers this year, but more about that in a day or so. The fight is definitely not over.

The highlight of Dan’s account of his journey into the heart of bureaucratic darkness comes when he reprints comments received by his company since the story hit the wires, and among them is the following gem that deserves consideration in its punctuationally-challenged entirety:

Glad you think you won. By making a mockery of our State Liquor Division by crying about your 'Free Speech'....give me a break. You ARE profiting by using a symbolism that in our state is rightfully illegal to do. Shame on you. Those regulations are in my eyes prudent and most necessary. Children learn from a young age that alcohol abuse is acceptable. Leave a bottle of your swill around with your XMAS Characters...Jr. won't think it's cool to pick up Mom and Dad's nasty habit....Well, due to your Company's arrogance in deciding to skirt our laws, I think maybe it's time for a good 'ol fashioned BOYCOTT ..yep.. You people are the worse case and a Poster Child on how NOT to be a re= sponsible company. I hope you're SUED for negligence. Damn beer drinkers are scum.

Scum? That’s so … precious.

Really, all that's missing is "Confound Taxpayer" or "$$$$$$" as a signature, a disparaging reference to the incumbent Mayor, and “jus’ my ‘pinion” at the end, and it might have been written by an anonymous New Albanian doing the "Trog Sham (an)'s Blues" karaoke at the Luddite Bar & Grill.

Come to think of it, maybe it was ... if so, come on over to Rich O's and visit on December 16, when Seriously Bad Elf will be served on draft during our Saturnalia winter solstice festival:

"We're putting the Pagan back into Christmas -- one pint at a time."

New Albany's POTTY POLICE take the LOW road, but only because that's the one leading DOWN to the sewer.

They’re men and women with badges, but they’re not chasing ordinary criminals.

They’re New Albany’s self-appointed POTTY POLICE.

Sure, they have a GAS allowance just like the regular cops, but they get to SIT DOWN on the job, because when the POLITICAL CHIP on your shoulder is the size of a friggin' MANHOLE COVER and you’re DANCIN' around that RING OF FIRE every day ... well, you’re going to need a nice, soft SEAT in front of the computer and a TAKE-HOME POTTY CAR.


Coming soon to a mayoral campaign near you.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Robert Greenwald on Wal-Mart film premiere week: "Touching hearts, changing minds and creating social change."

Last week's Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price documentary film premiere was a grassroots event all but ignored by the mainstream media in the Louisville area (all hail LEO for its coverage), but as the following dispatch from the film's creator attests, waves were made nationwide.


Dear activists, colleagues, and friends,

I am neurotic, Jewish and from New York, so I am not pre-disposed to celebrate... but... LAST WEEK WAS AMAZING.

Norwich: "Wow. At the Norwich Public Library last evening we had to close the doors and turn folks away!"

Milwaukee: "We were thrilled with the turn out and media coverage for our two screenings."

Portland: "Had a fantastic screening at Bridgeport UCC in Portland, Oregon on Saturday night... a packed house."

Flagstaff: "more then 800 people. ... standing and sitting in the aisles. We another screening planned."

Madison: "More then 900 people waiting in line in the snow to see the film."

The reports like these from around the country (see photos) of filled screenings, from schools to church to bike store to hospital basement to pizza parlor to yoga studio...Wherever a screen exits, someone was showing the film. I spoke in Eugene to a crowd of over 700 at Lane community college, Lisa was in Santa Fe, Devin in Chicago, Kabira in Florida with College Democrats and Republicans, Sarah hit Santa Monica and West Hollywood, Jim entertained Orange Coast College, Sharaf went to Chapman College and Rick Jacobs spoke to Progressive Majority. You get the idea! 7,000 screenings around the country, and hundreds of thousands of people were engaged in the real deal of democracy.

Now that (most) of you have had a chance to see the film, it's time to take action. Wal-Mart Watch and Wake-Up Wal-Mart are the two major national campaigns, and we strongly urge you to get involved with them. But there are literally hundreds of allies who are working to fight Wal-Mart, so we created a page where you can explore all of the activity here.

I'd specifically like to draw your attention to the Healthcare Accountability Act. Our friends at the Campaign for America's Future, and others are asking you to write your member of Congress and encourage them to co-sponsor this bill that would require profitable companies like Wal-Mart to take responsibility for their employees' healthcare. It's very simple, you can start here.

Thursday is Thanksgiving, and many of you will be gathering with family and friends, so please bring the film with you. While some are watching football, others can learn about the high cost of low price -- it's certainly more fun to argue about Wal-Mart then whatever family fight has been going on for years.

To help spread the word, we're now offering a box of 5 DVDs for $50 with free shipping anywhere in the U.S. This is an amazing deal and about as low as we can go and still keep the lights on, so please give the gift that just might change where people buy their own holiday presents. Buy a box here.

I want to leave you with one more incredible story sent in from Santa Maria, California:

"We published letters to the editor, put up posters and passed out flyers. At the premier the room was packed. The most crucial of the screenings was 48 hours prior to a city council meeting where slick Wal-Mart reps were coming to try and get the zoning code changed to allow for a 55 acre supercenter. At the city council meeting the chambers were packed...Empassioned by the stories in the film by people just like them, the chamber audience got a bit rowdy....Wal-Mart failed to get the council members approval with a vote of 5-0 against them! Thanks in no small part to your film, your alternative distribution strategy and dedicated local field producers like Bob Banner here in San Luis Obispo...the city of Santa Maria is safe! (for the time being)."

The film is becoming the tool it is meant to be, going into the world and building the movement.

Unlike traditional opening weeks, this one is just the beginning, and the fight will be a long and hard one, but with your help and support the film is touching hearts, changing minds and creating social change!


Robert Greenwald and the entire Brave New Films team -- Devin, Jim, Kabira, Lisa, Rick, Sarah and Sharaf

P.S. Today is Wal-Mart day at the Huffington Post. Read blogs from Al Norman, Stan Fortune, Sen. Kennedy, Rep. Sanders, one of the film's co-producers Kerry Candaele, David Sirota, Andy Stern, and many others (including me).

P.P.S. Since Friday is supposed to be the biggest shopping day of the year, it's a great opportunity to have some fun. Check out the Wal-mart Takedown Action Center for some guerilla ideas.

Rumors of new downtown NA coffee shop (partially) confirmed.

Twice in recent weeks, during unrelated threads on the Louisville Restaurant Forum, I’ve been subjected to heavy hinting by a Louisville coffee wholesaler to the effect that a coffee shop is coming to downtown New Albany very soon.

Both times this coffee biz heavyweight hasn’t responded to hints of my own to let me know the score, but … dimly recalling a Board of Public Works meeting that I attended during the spring, when the owner of the building at 419/421 State Street (formerly Sherwin Williams Paints) asked the board for permission to close the sidewalk for restoration of the façade in preparation to open a retail store (now State Street Flooring) … there was some comment made about an adjoining coffee shop, wasn’t there?

Sure enough, we drove past it on Sunday afternoon, and people were inside working, so I poked my head in and asked what they were doing. The reply was “coffee shop,” with a target date for opening of the first week of January.

As we see it, the challenge in opening a coffee shop extends somewhat beyond the lengthy list of hurdles facing any new business venture.

The coffee needs to be made correctly, an appropriate aesthetic needs to be served, and it needs to be open!

With all due respect to the Main Street Grind, we’re still waiting for a downtown New Albany coffee shop to get it right. As a model, Perkfections in Jeffersonville (359 Spring Street) comes very close, with the sole flaw of being closed on Sundays and (we’re told) maintaining short weeknight hours.

Here’s the roster of coffee shops in New Albany, and one worthy business in Floyds Knobs. We’re assuming that reports of Brew Café’s demise are true, as the phone number is barking “disconnected.”

Bean Street Cafe
Charlestown Road
(812) 944-6262
Jim Book started the business at the intersection of Slate Run Road and Charlestown Road, and recently moved it to the burgeoning exurb north of the I-265 interchange. He has irons in the fire at Indiana University Southeast and is reputed to be establishing a branch somewhere in the Quadrangle reclamation project in Jeffersonville.

Coffee Crossing
4212 Charlestown Road
(812) 981-2633
Web sites with Bible verses = some variety of Christian outreach, so consequently such establishments shall never be NA Confidential’s cup of Joe. But to each his (or her) own.

Main Street Grind
155 E. Main St.
(812) 944-2326
Gracious, pleasant people who’ve been in business for more than 10 years, so of course they must be doing something right … and yet they have a knack for never being open for business when it really matters, i.e., roughly a 30-hour workweek compared to 100+ for a typical Heine Brothers in Louisville. Unfortunately, the espresso varies widely according to who is on duty at the time.

California’s California's Coffee House/Mexican Kitchen/(insert name this week)
1515 East Market Street
If you have a wheel, then give it a good hard spin. Are they open or closed today? Cooking this week, or not? Working with Los Indios, or Taco Bell? Have coffee or not? A special arrangement with Starbucks, or Folger’s? Sorry, but we’ve passed the point of frustration. It’s not an encouraging picture.

Hobknobb Roasting Company
3700 Paoli Pike
Floyds Knobs, Indiana
Roasts on site, makes a good espresso, has the aesthetic down – and too damned far away from downtown to bicycle without working at it.

As Casey Stengel is reputed to have asked the 1962 New York Mets, "does anybody here know how to play this game?"

To which we'd add, "somewhere near our house!"

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Let’s check back on the Tribune week that was.

Last Sunday, NA Confidential expressed supreme annoyance with Chris Morris's sloppy, negligent and poorly reasoned rant entitled, "Do cities really need formal smoking bans?" We asked:

Do newspapers really need informed, intelligent editorials about public policy issues? Our Tribune apparently is uncertain.

Publisher John Tucker answers:

The opinion is strictly Chris's. While the article appeared in the spot that has traditionally been occupied by the newspaper's "official" stance and Chris is the managing editor of the newspaper, Chris is identified as the author and holder of the opinion.

The fact that you feel that his stance is uninformed and unintelligent is also an opinion and I encourage you to express your view by sending in a letter to the editor or (if you feel you need to go longer) a column.

It is my feeling that a healthy exchange of opinions/viewpoints can only lead to good things. If that includes taking the editor of the paper to task over what you feel was a poorly written piece, so be it. We'll print it.

As always, thanks for reading.

In turn, NAC thanks John for this response, and will consider a rebuttal in the fashion suggested. At the same time, we persist in the view that until the editorial page is coherently redefined by the newspaper's new management, the traditional editorial slot should be occupied by semi-official statements of the newspaper's editorial stance, and not by the editor's meandering and non-factual commentaries.

The Tribune's coverage of Wednesday' Wal-Mart documentary film premiere was lamentably spotty.

A Greg Gapsis (Evening News) piece about the grassroots effort to screen the film was published and reprinted inside the print edition of the Tribune, but the link to it on the newspapers' dual website was curiously placed in the "Lifestyles" section rather than "Local News."

National sigh of relief: The high cost of a Wal-Mart shopper's conscience is not examined in new documentary film.

None of this has been explained, but then again, we have not issued a formal notice. John, if you're reading ...

The week's most profound instance of human error at the Tribune occurred on Thursday, when the newspaper used days-old press releases to describe Baron Hill's New Albany appearance the previous day, and in doing so laughably misrepresented the event, "reporting" Hill's speech as taking place outside, not inside, the City-County Building, and noting the presence of his entire family, when only one of three daughters actually attended.

Here's why the Tribune should read NA Confidential first.

A "correction" was hurriedly published, though not in the front-page space where the error was made (a pet peeve of NAC's; to bury it elsewhere seems evasive, somehow), but fair enough; laziness has been acknowledged, and that's the important thing.

We're not approaching these criticisms of the Tribune in a malicious manner, or in the adversarial way that previous management regimes were content to foster through neglect and indifference.

Rather, John Tucker has undertaken to meet with the newspaper's readers and explain the process of reform that he has instituted, and he is responsive to the concerns that we've voiced to date.

As New Albany embarks upon its much delayed campaigns of glasnost and perestroika, a newspaper with similar aims is vitally important, and we've no doubt that John's plans are sincere.

That's a wrap. Forty or so days until Christmas ... and John knows what we mean by that reference.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Greenway Forum on Tuesday, Nov. 22 -- time to take back this project from the internal combustion engine lobby?

Ann’s Diggin’ in the Dirt blog has the details:

Greenway Forum to be Held November 22 – it’s at 6:00 p.m. at the Grand.

To NA Confidential, the central Greenway question as the project pertains to New Albany is not that of access to it through the floodwall in the downtown district.

Rather, it’s the far more fundamental question of why automobile traffic must be accommodated at all.

We strongly feel that the plan for the Greenway should be revised (and the price tag considerably reduced) by removing automotive traffic from as much of the route as possible.

For the Greenway to connect with New Albany requires its passage over the creek that runs through Al Goodman’s Loop Island Wetlands. The existing superstructure of an old railroad trestle appears to be capable of refitting for the purpose of pedestrians and bicycles, but Greenway plans call for the construction of a multi-million dollar bridge.

It’s not only senseless, but it compromises the conceptual basis of the recreational Greenway to slash through an environmental area for the sake of the internal combustion engine – and those of us who appreciate the Loop Island Wetlands, and who exercise by walking or riding bicycles, need to make this known.

To be sure, the Greenway’s movers and shakers previously have complained of public detachment when it comes to meetings and forums. This apathy will have to be reversed, and Tuesday’s forum is as fine a place as any to start the process of making the Greenway make sense.

Write your opinions here, and bring them with you on Tuesday.

Friday, November 18, 2005

George Will takes on "zealots" and their effort to "infuse theism into scientific education."

Interesting reading from a card-carrying conservative, intended for those carrying on the debate in recent NA Health postings:

NA Health: New Data on Hops (see the comments section)
NA Health: The Beauty of Creation

Social conservatives threaten fragile coalition, by George Will (November 17, 2005).

Excerpts from the Will column:

The storm-tossed and rudderless Republican Party should particularly ponder the vote last week in Dover, Pa., where all eight members of the school board seeking re-election were defeated. This expressed the community's wholesome exasperation with the board's campaign to insinuate religion, in the guise of ''intelligent design'' theory, into high school biology classes, beginning with a required proclamation that evolution ''is not a fact.''

But it is. And President Bush's straddle on that subject -- ''both sides'' should be taught -- although intended to be anodyne, probably was inflammatory, emboldening social conservatives ...

... ''It does me no injury,'' said Thomas Jefferson, ''for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.'' But it is injurious, and unneighborly, when zealots try to compel public education to infuse theism into scientific education.

Our friend HB, a "zealot"? Say it ain't so, HB.

Almost three months later, insurance company okays demolition of burned-out salon.

Thanks to Steve LaDuke of the Board of Public Works and Safety for providing this update on a previous NA Confidential news item.

Props also to local attorney Richard Rush, whose comments about insurance settlement delays were posted after most readers had moved on to fresher threads.


I just wanted to follow up with you concerning the burned out tanning salon on Charlestown Rd.

It was reported at the Board of Public Works meeting (November 15) that the owners have been given approval by the insurance company to demolish the building. The owners have contacted the Building Commissioner's office about obtaining a demolition permit. It looks like that is finally moving forward.


The view from La Rosita is about to get better ... although Sonic is no picnic, either.

Here's why the Tribune should read NA Confidential first.

On the front page of the Thursday New Albany Tribune, it was reported that "former U.S. Rep. Baron Hill formally announced his campaign to unseat Republican Mike Sodrel Wednesday afternoon in New Albany."

So far, so good, although unseating Sodrel on Wednesday afternoon isn't as hopeful a prospect as unseating him on a Tuesday in November, 2006.

The article is compiled from "staff and wire reports," which is newspaper-speak that means the Tribune failed to send someone over from its building, approximately fifty yards away, to cover the event.

Well, it happens. After all, it was lunchtime.

The Tribune article continues:

Hill made several stops in the 9th District and made his announcement in New Albany on the steps of the City-County Building.

Say what?

Here's the photo from yesterday's NA Confidential coverage of Hill's announcement.

No ugly columns anywhere in sight. Looks like a conference room to me.

The Tribune article continues:

Hill was joined by his wife, Betty, and three adult daughters.

Those of us who attended the event, as opposed to those who transcribed press releases, know that Hill's wife could not make the New Albany stop, and taking her place was one, not three, of Hill's daughters, who is pictured here.

The Tribune's transgressions this week are multiplying. First came a substandard, poorly reasoned Sunday editorial by Chris Morris, then muddled web site placement and inadequate coverage of the Wal-Mart movie screening, and now pure, unadulterated laziness with respect to coverage of former Rep. Hill's New Albany visit.

Wasn't all this supposed to change?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

National sigh of relief: The high cost of a Wal-Mart shopper's conscience is not examined in new documentary film.

The history of American comic strips begins with one timeless line from Walt Kelly:

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Cary Stemle, editor of the Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO) spoke briefly to the crowd before the first screening of the documentary.

So what?

Does it matter one jot to the monolithic retailing colossus Wal-Mart that fifty hardy souls gathered outdoors and braved chilly, windy conditions to watch two showings of a powerful documentary that provides sordid, outrageous details about one of the most powerful corporations in the world, facts that most of those in attendance – being generally responsible and responsive citizens and well-informed voters – knew beforehand?

After all, it isn’t a question of whether the sales volume of a single Louisville area Wal-Mart during the same four-hour period is more than the combined yearly salaries of all those frozen crazies in attendance.

Rather, it’s a question of the multiplier to be used in arriving at an answer to an equation that I wouldn’t attempt without a Chinese-made calculator.

Projectionist Jim Sprigler seemed undeterred by the cold November gusts.

A consistent theme throughout Robert Greenwald’s compelling, devastating critique of Wal-Mart’s way of doing business – targeting local mom ‘n’ pop businesses for demolition, extorting community leaders, mistreating its workers, despoiling the environment – is that these arrogant and destructive modes of corporate behavior somehow represent a mutant strain of American-style capitalism.

How, then, do we account for the ringing endorsement proffered by millions of satisfied Wal-Mart shoppers each and every day?

How many union members shop at Wal-Mart, which is described by one of Greenwald’s witnesses as perhaps the most virulently anti-union business in retailing history, and is known to have installed surveillance cameras not as an anti-crime measure, but one intended to prevent unionization?

How many women shop at Wal-Mart, which apparently prefers to settle dozens of sexual discrimination lawsuits out of court rather than modify the corporate culture to prevent them?

How many Americans spend their money at Wal-Mart and never consider the high cost of the low prices they cherish, who never consider the impact on the community of competition that is far from fair, who never ask a question about conditions in Chinese sweatshops, who are as “stunned” as the woman in the film after being told that Wal-Mart acquiesced in the abuse of illegal immigrant cleaning crews?

To which a bemused Jon Stewart replies, “Stunned? You just bought a sweater for 29 cents.”

Dave and his assistant from Federal Hill Cafe came bearing thermos jugs of coffee.

Mutant? Or perhaps we’re far too fully aware that this type of monopolistic, exploitative capitalism is far too common to be dismissed as an aberration, and cognitive dissonance being what it is, “we the people” just can’t quite bring ourselves to face up to such a nasty little secret?

Oh yes, and how many “little people” of New Albany did we see tonight?

To paraphrase the second most important moment in comic strip history, as first unleashed by Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes:

Wal-Mart shoppers are the ones who need Greenwald’s “swift kick in the butt” the most ... but they’re not asking for it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Baron Hill in New Albany today; campaign underway.

Today in New Albany, local Democrats (predictably minus the city council’s tired and increasingly redundant Gang of Four), filled the City-County Building’s 3rd floor meeting room for a punctual noontime appearance by Baron Hill, who vowed to do what it takes to regain the congressional seat he lost to Mike “The Mustache” Sodrel in 2004.

It was the third of four stops for Hill during a two-day opening blitz of the 9th District, and his remarks were similar to those he made in Bloomington yesterday, as reported here:

Hill will challenge Sodrel in '06; Democrat looks to retake 9th District, by Lesley Stedman Weidenbener (short shelf life for Courier-Journal links).

During question and answer time, NA Confidential asked Hill how he plans to remain on task with a promised campaign of issues while on the receiving end of what is expected to be a ceaseless negative campaign bombardment financed by Sodrel’s nationally funded, right-wing GOP sycophants – a phenomenon that assisted in Hill’s downfall in the 2004 election.

“I’m going to be aggressive,” he replied to spontaneous and sustained applause.

Let's hope that Baron Hill follows through on this promise. The 9th District does not need a representative who "votes with Tom DeLay 99% of the time."

Police Chief Harl to Roudenbush: “You should get your facts straight.”

New Albany Police Chief Merle Harl’s Tuesday letter to the editor of the Tribune forcefully rebutted comments made in the October edition of The Forum of New Albany and Floyd County, a print-only newsletter written and published by longtime local commentator and mail carrier, Jeff Roudenbush.

Unfortunately, NA Confidential does not have access to Roudenbush’s publication at this time, as it is not archived on line. As we continue to urge Roudenbush to join us in the present, digital century, let it be understood that we will gladly update this article to include his original comments if he or other readers will kindly provide them to us.

Incidentally, it bears noting when NA Confidential was in its infancy, we were gifted with a complimentary copy of The Forum, and rashly assumed it was being provided to us as a professional courtesy.

We’ve not received another; so much for our hasty assumption, but then again, we’ve opted out of the obstructionist lynch mob in the months since. At any rate, at the time we wrote this:

Latest issue of Jeff Roudenbush's "The Forum" mailed to NA Confidential.

Following Chief Harl’s letter is a comment made by an anonymous poster at Speak Out Loud NA, which aptly summarizes both that spitwad blogyard’s and The Forum’s Luddite party lines.


Letters to the Editor
Hiring of Code Enforcement Officer was legal
By New Albany Police Chief Merle Harl

Dear editor:

“The Forum of New Albany and Floyd County,” a response to Jeff Roudenbush.

In the October edition of this forum, Jeff Roudenbush referred to the appointment of Pam Badger as Code Enforcement Officer as illegal. Mr. Roudenbush, you have implied with the term “illegal” that a criminal act has been committed. That is not the case in any interpretation of the facts.

What is “illegal” about assigning an officer the duties of Code Enforcement?

Pam Bader was already working for the New Albany Police Department as a traffic officer and issuing city ordinance citations.

You stated that I hijacked the process and acted illegally. Before making accusations and statements like this, you should get your facts straight. I have the authority to assign an officer the duties of enforcing city ordinances, regardless of their position as police officer of traffic officer.

I advised the Mayor of my intentions and he agreed that Pam Badger would do an excellent job in that position. We all knew that Pam Badger would have to be approved by the Board of Public Works and Safety, and then be approved by the City Council before she would be officially appointed to the position.

You stated that this did not occur until the City Council members demanded it happen. That is not true because the process had already been started.

Yes, Officer Badger did begin the duties of Code Enforcement Officer before she was officially approved by the Council, but she could legally do that.

Mr. Roudenbush, what is wrong with cleaning up our neighborhoods of the garbage and trash? Should I have not acted on an opportunity to begin the code enforcement our community so desperately needed?

You also stated in your forum “Once again the Garner Administration is trying to do the right thing the wrong way, and it is getting to be an old story.”

The only old story is misinformed people telling half stories – the halves they pick and choose.


And now, in response, give it up for Concern Taxpayer, who provides comic relief and counterpoint (of sorts) in this unedited meltdown:


I resent Chief Harl attacking "The Forum" in the Tribune. No council member I have talk to was or is against Pam Badger as Code Enforcer.

The Council members were against the way James Garner handled it.

Like many of us Citizens and taxpayers feel the way you Jimmy handled this shabby way of doing business and showing the Council you are the "Boss" and will do what ever the Hell you want!

But again after the last 2 Years it has been Mr. Mayor's pattern to not follow certain laws or procedures.

And excuse me Chief Harl you are dead wrong in your comments. And you know it!

Because if you were right in your so "CALLED COMMENTS" in The Tribune. Then My Question is how come it took 2 Years to have a Code Enforcer?

And Sir You all did not follow the law the way it was written nor did you follow procedure!

Sir, if it was in yours and Jimmy's Power, Including The Board of Works to appoint and fill this position. Then why are you all not doing the job we as taxpayers are paying you to do?

And also in your defense I do realize the Mayor is your boss.

And I would highly recommend TO You Sir to fill out a Request for Public Records and re-read the Ordinance.

But Mr. Mayor needs to realize the taxpayers of New Albany is the Mayors Boss.

We sign all of your paychecks.

Mr. Mayor continues to have this Overton pass attitude. The hell with what is right or having to following Procedures or laws that are passed by the City Council.

And I say to you Mr. Mayor this will be your down fall. And a large part of the reason you will not be re-elected.

I personally sat in a meeting you were at and your comments I over heard you say to one of your so called qualified Employees.

Mr. Mayor's comments: "Was the hell with what the City Council wants... I will do what ever I want and I "DO NOT" need there approval!

Because I am the Mayor!

Well my comments to you Mr. Mayor:You ought to be damn glad your not running for re-election next year.

And this is my opinion

Concern Taxpayer, 9:32 AM, November 16, 2005


If you’re keeping score, here’s the line:

Jeff Roudenbush – known citizen and print publisher.
Merle Harl – known police chief.
Pam Badger – known Ordinance Enforcement Officer.
Roger A. Baylor – known business owner and blogger.
James Garner – known citizen and mayor.

Concern Taxpayer – unknown lout.

Priceless -- absolutely priceless.