Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Just like the 3rd District misses being represented.

Some things never change, so during a city council meeting that lasted only thirty (30) minutes from opening to closing gavels, the eternally mellifluous Councilman Cappuccino spoke too many words and said far too little, but of course nothing can compare to the malapropian twang of the 3rd District's Uncouncilman Price, who described the insurance plan of city employees as "pretty daggone good," and added that he "misses it," giggling spacily while the sparse crowd counted ceiling tiles and remembered lost episodes of Andy Griffith prior to Price's unfathomable abstention ("because it's the first reading.")

Other than a mercifully brief snippet of Luddite karaoke about audits and the comically ominous presence of former kingpin Doug "Cardinal Richelieu" England's own personal Sancho Panza, that's about it, proving that without a divisive issue for predetermined grandstanding, this council actually is able to conduct semi-professional meetings and accomplish limited aims.


shirley baird said...

Come on Roger, Luddite Karaoke? That was pretty unkind. I am serious about the audit and will continue to my quest until the Administration shows the taxpayers where all of this money is going.

Make fun all you want but this city will have show an accounting of their spending practices. That is not just my opinion, sir, but a fact.

The New Albanian said...

Surely, Shirley, you noticed that by not identifying the speaker by name, I was making an obvious editorial decision to grasp the chance to use “Luddite karaoke” without embarrassing an individual.

Since you’ve generally been sincere and reasonable in these discussions and have not advocated suppression of free speech, as has your troop leader* on a consistent and ultimately damning basis, I’ll explain what I meant by all of it.

First, the use of proper names. It suited my rhetorical purpose to use “Councilman Cappuccino” rather than Dan Coffey, as I’ve invested time in constructing this ludicrous fictional identity for the ward-heeling politician and intend to use it to satirical effect whenever possible.

On the other hand, Steve Price remains Steve Price because he is the uncouncilman for my district, and I intend to be actively involved in any effort to replace him with someone more responsive to the interests of my neighborhood. Straight up, and he deserves the courtesy of my being open about these intentions.

Because former mayor Doug England appears to be posturing behind the scenes as some sort of elder statesman power broker, I referred to him by name and associated his role with that of Cardinal Richelieu. If you’re unfamiliar with the figure of the European ecclesiastic, then have your friend Legal Bagel look it up on the Internet and publish the results without proper attribution – another instance of someone screaming about playing “by the rules” but not following them.

But I digress. Since Mayor England’s longtime associate John Mattingly was in attendance last night and openly chewing the scenery in his preferred role of influence peddler -- and owing to his ancillary status -- he was not identified by name, but as Sancho Panza, sidekick to the delusional fictional character Don Quixote. Those familiar with literature will draw the necessary conclusions from this reference without my having to explain them.

As for “Luddite karaoke,” it is a phrase I’ve been nurturing since making the observation that Laura’s troggy bloggy threads typically involve an anonymous poster tossing out a buzzword-of-the-moment (“audit,” “take-home car,” “Jimmy G”), this jump ball of sorts then being answered by other anonymous posters who do little more than repeat the same buzzword but thank the first anonymous poster for scaling such heights of philosophical insight, and on, and on, until the endlessly self-congratulatory call and response process resembles nothing so much as singing along to someone else’s tune – or, karaoke.

Unfortunately, only one person spoke last night, so I had to decide whether to break in the new phrase in such a limited context or to wait until another occasion. Knowing that my readership (reading, as opposed to scrawling cyber graffiti) is at its highest on a Tuesday after a city council meeting, I decided to use it.

Have I answered all your questions? Contrary to the “Speak Out” ethos, writing is not some sort of bowel movement. You do it for a reason, in a certain manner, and with a goal in mind. The fact that you’re still reading NAC indicates an open mind and at least a measure of appreciation for what I’m doing here. Thanks for your comments.


*Here’s a link for readers interested in knowing more about New Albany’s Guru to the Gullible.

Tim Deatrick said...

One other observation, in another attempt at grandstanding and a warm-up to "Cappuccino's" possible ill-fated campaign for Mayor, the former sewer dept. foreman claims that the recent 5 million gallon sewer overflow might not have been as a result of the Lift station going off line,but alluded to a manhole in Joe Kraft Park as the culprit.
As a former sewer employee I concur that that has been a site of blokage in the past, of course I havent been there since 1999, but to believe that 5 million gallons could surcharge from that manhole is a big stretch.

EMC stated that the lift station was off line for nearly 24 hours, I tend to put more faith in sanitary sewer engineers than grandstanding politicians, afetr all we are paying EMC for their ewxpertise and management, I havent been able to figure out what we are paying "capuccino" for yet.

Jeff Gillenwater said...

A mayoral race with England and a Republican would be like deciding which foot to shoot.

shirley baird said...

Really, Roger what I meant was that I preferred to be called by name rather than a Luddite Karaoke performer. (Even though I have been known to sing a song or two after a couple of Bud Lites)

Since I was the lone speaker, anyone present at the meeting last night would know the individual in question.

I do occasionally hop to this blog and others. Today I wanted to see your take on the meeting last night as well as your followers.

I did not refer to Mr. Coffey or Mr. Price because you always give them silly names anyway. Nothing I say will change that.

As far as Cardinal Richelieu, yes I have heard of him in History Class as well as Religion Class. I have to think a LONG WAY back to remember. But that's another story.

As far as Don Quixote, do you think Doug England is trying to position himself to run for a higher office than Mayor? Hence the comparison to the windmill slayer? I wasn't quite sure where you were going with that one.

But, like I said earlier. I will continue to post on blogs and speak at meetings with my opinions. If people don't like what I have to say, they can count ceiling tiles.

Have a great day.

edward parish said...

"hey Cisco, lets went"

All4Word said...

"Audit" sounds good, doesn't it?

And isn't it helpful to an agenda-driven cause that all available "audit" documents contain a disclaimer at the bottom of the page declaring that the accountants cannot absolutely verify their work as a true audit.

But Shirley, you're being led down a path, and easily at that, because you clearly join the throng that believes that is a signpost to conspiracy and vile doings.

I dare you to come up with any audit, much less an audit of a government agency, that DOES NOT contain such a disclaimer.

The only true audit without disclaimer would be one in which every transaction was handled individually and every purchased item was used or consumed by the auditor himself. There will always be a disclaimer.

As for the need for an audit, I'll grant you that fund accounting (the method of accounting used by governments and non-profits) takes a little getting used to. But there is no mystery about city finances. Although Mrs. Garry cannot sit down with every citizen, or even every individual council member, to give a remedial course in how to read a financial statement, she is always forthcoming about matters that are unclear to "civilians."

I grow increasingly tired of council members and residents using their own ignorance and inability to read a spreadsheet as some kind of golden cross with which to beat their political opponents.

If Messrs. Schmidt and Coffey, in particular, can't understand the city budget after all these years, they are damning themselves.

How does incompetence and an inability to understand the obvious become a virtue? How does that become a rallying cry to which citizens would respond?

"Follow me! I'm too stupid to read a spreadsheet and I've been serving in this office for (fill in the blank) years!"

Even a cursory audit would cost $100,000. It would not satisfy Shirley or her "leaders."

Think back. Wasn't it just a few months ago that we went round and round about how this city was going to SUDDENLY cope with the loss of $2.8 million because the state auditing body found a mistake?

What the hell was that? An audit, that's what it was. It found errors and ordered that procedures and records be upgraded so that it won't happen again. Soon, they'll issue an audit for 2004.

Will nothing satisfy these people. There's not enough money in the general fund this year for anybody to be hiding anything. Down to the penny, the administration cut and pared to keep this city running. And not without significant opposition from the Luddites, I might add.

Before you "demand" an audit, find out what an audit is, what it does, and then tell me who's advocating for wasting the city's and the taxpayers' money.

This is just another ploy to starve the government and let everybody fend for themselves. Man the barricades. Park the police fleet. Don't invest, hoard.

If that's your agenda, don't appropriate the word progress. You have no idea what the word means.

Brandon W. Smith said...

I grow increasingly tired of council members and residents using their own ignorance and inability to read a spreadsheet as some kind of golden cross with which to beat their political opponents.

"Follow me! I'm too stupid to read a spreadsheet and I've been serving in this office for (fill in the blank) years!"

Ditto. People tend to fear what they don't understand. And, when you couple this with an unwillingness or inability to educate oneself, you get our current city council.

Can we at least try and elect public officials who aren't afraid to learn?

ceece said...


I take offense at that, honostly, anyone should. We all have our own minds, even over on the blog formerly-known-as-pink.

however, we do tend to to drift where we agree with most of the ideas and theories. Follower is still a pretty stong word there.

shirley baird said...

Dear Smith Brothers,

I am not being led down a path, but I am afraid you are.

I will continue to push for an audit until the Administration can show us (the taxpayers) where our tax dollars are going.

I have no hard feelings toward Mrs. Garry, she seems like a nice person. She may be the City Controller but she cannot control the whole city administration. She is an employee doing the best she can. I would not expect her
to sit down with every interested taxpayer and open her books, that is ridiculous, but the State should be able to come to New Albany and be able to make sense out of our books. I think the State Board of Accounts employees are able to read a spreadsheet.

I have never claimed to be a Rhodes Scholar but please do not talk to me like I am a five year old. I too can read a spreadsheet.

Jeff Gillenwater said...

What am I missing, Shirley?

The state (whom we ultimately answer to concerning financial matters) has performed audits recently and the city cut its budget drastically.

Are you saying that the State Board of Accounts is so incapable of performing a competent audit that we have to hire a third party to do what they can't?

What of the arguments elsewhere that careen daily between the city being in dire financial straights and having enough money to cover an $800,000 project with no new fees? Obviously, both can't be true.

The New Albanian said...

I am not being led down a path, but I am afraid you are.

Could you elaborate? What element of the neverending conspiracy are we failing to heed?

The New Albanian said...

And, isn't it nice that people who know each other can chat about issues without the heavy hand of censorship marring the party?

Rick Carmickle said...

What am I missing here?

We have had audits, by the state, by a local accounting firm; in all cases the paperwork was not sufficient to provide a true accountable record of expenditures or assessments.

Why keep pointing fingers at each other and playing the blame game. If we don’t have the correct papers or procedures at this time in space, then lets at least start trying to put into position the laws that will close loop holes, mandate accountability of all elected officials, not just the mayor or city comptroller. Let us put some laws into effect that watch over city councilmember’s too! It appears there is no watch dog over any of our local politicians.

I mean, even over on the so called pink blog, there have been some good ideas, but they take them to the edge and then throw them off the cliff. Between all the blogs about New Albany none are working for a solution to the problems, not really! Do you think if we were all to work together, not Democrats vs. Republicans, progressives vs. luddites, but just a common folk working for a common cause we might get something accomplished!

Maybe one of the first things we need to do is rewrite the city constitution (if there is such a thing) and limit city council terms as well as Mayor. Or make the terms only good for two years like a congress member. Whatever, we need to do something and we need to do it together! United we stand, divided we fall!

Yes, this is a rant and I apologize for it, I usually don’t come out of my shell much anymore and respond, but it’s getting awful tiring sitting on the sideline and see a lot of energy being wasted, energy that could be focused to make our city a better, brighter place to live in these United States!

And I am not running for Shit!

Highwayman said...

YOU GO RICK!! I agree with you about wasted energy if today's exchange ends here. Hopefully it will not. Dart throwing can be and is productive if it causes one more person to begin to think, become informed, and get involved.

As I see it we the citizens need to find at least some common ground among all of the issues and groups. The first being that we all are paying taxes, one way or another, and we are all recipients of the services or lack thereof.

Following that comes the difficult part. Namely finding people who are capable of and willing to run for the office and represent all of us after being elected.

If we are fortunate enough to accomplish that task, we then get to start all over for the next one.
It's like washing dishes. It is never ends but the kitchen sure looks good for a while when your finished.

Now to show my contrarian side following my dart comment; trying to sing after drinking Bud Lite?

All4Word said...

Rick, I'm troubled at your suggestion of term limits. That's terribly undemocratic to say that the voters are too stupid (or the voting process too corrupted) to choose who they want to represent them.

Representation isn't (or shouldn't be) some plum that must be shared like candy in kindergarten. It's serious business, and I bristle at the suggestion that the voters are too stupid to vote out those who do not serve their interests.

I, too, am puzzled to see how the veterans on City Council ever continued to be elected. But no matter how strongly I would desire to see Kochert, Coffey, and Schmidt removed, I don't think term limits are the answer.

If the people of the First District vote to return Dan Coffey to office, we'll just deal with it. We're trying to get people to pay attention during these non-election years. I'm persuaded that if they do pay attention, they will never re-elect these men who fail to represent them.

Shining the light is the answer.

But, your frustration may well have other causes. If the system is being gamed by inequitable district sizes, vote-buying, vote-stealing, intimidation and threats, then that must be exposed. If voters are prevented from knowing the facts, we must fight past that.

But, in the end, if the process is clean and fair (granted, there's no guarantee of that), then Dan Coffey is but one of nine on the council. It becomes the responsibility of the other eight to police him.

Note that I would never use the word "police" about Mr. Kochert. I wouldn't want to be the inadvertent cause of apoplexy and I hear that Mr. K's knee jerks reflexively whenever he hears the word "police."

Rick Carmickle said...

All4word, I guess my reasoning behind the term limits is that would make them have to get out every two years and meet with their real constituents. I mean if a congressman has to get out every two years keeping his job is why a lowly city councilman should have to do the same.

If at the end of two years the councilman or person to be correct isn’t performing to what the majority of his or her district expect, why have to wait through two more years of frustration. It appears there is no way to impeach or remove an elected official for any other reason than committing a felony. Being an ignorant is not a felony!

I have to agree with you I don’t understand how some of these folks get re-elected year after year, and then sit on the council and say they do not understand the problem, or can not read a financial statement, some of them are so far out of step with today’s way of life today you have to wonder if they never read a paper or watch a newscast.

I remember the very first council meeting I attended, one of council members admonished the Chief of Police because he the councilman had seen two New Albany Police cruisers parked near the Hooters in Jeffersonville. First of all, Hooters is nothing more than a restaurant, nothing more than food and drink. The officers could have been across the street in Buckheads, another restaurant that serves food and drink, or could they have been down the street at Kingfish, you know another…, you get it the idea! They could have been meeting with fellow officers from Clarksville or Jeffersonville to discuss cases or the law. The idea is that this councilperson did not bother to get the facts before he lashed out, and that seems to be way our city council works, speak now and then eat crow later. In the above case I doubt that any kind of bird was consumed.

I just think if they had to get out every two years, they may stay more in tune with what the people really want. And that is to be served!

On a final note, I really enjoy posting on this blog because I know if some one disagrees with me that I will have privilege of knowing who that person is and maybe then we can carry on discourse with out that anonymous problem getting in the way! Even if only Roger knows the identity, I trust him to keep things civil.

All4Word said...

My sincere apologies, Rick. You know what kind of day I've had, and I read the word "term limits" into what you wrote.

Clearly, I misunderstood. I won't take a position on shorter terms per se. Maybe that's a solution. Perhaps staggered terms are another.

I apologize for misunderstanding the words and meaning of your comment.

But that's how strongly I feel whenever I hear the words term limits. It's such a Federalist thing to say, a solution that is no solution at all.

Presidential, gubernatorial, mayoral, and all other term limits should be abolished. It's a way to cede control to brokers instead of to the people. It's wrong in principle, and it's wrong in practice.

By the way, how many of the GOP class of '94 that took over the Congress for the first time in 50 years, pledging to self-limit their terms, actually resigned?

It's a ploy to bedazzle those who are insufficiently attentive to the world around them.

Obviously, that anti-democratic technique for muffling the people's voice was not what you were suggesting. Sorry.

Brandon W. Smith said...

I'm not related to Randy (although I do have a brother). Smith is a common name. What is so friggin hard to understand about that around here?? Have you been talking to Coffey again? ;)

CannonFarms said...

And the load, doesn't bear me down at all...he ain't heavy, he's my extended family. Hehehe