Wednesday, November 30, 2005

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).


Tim Deatrick said...

councilman schmidt was at the board of works meeting, perhaps he was Laura's source of disinformation, oh what am I thinking he is never inaccurate is he?

Tim Deatrick said...

also FYI, the ridiculous claim by the trog sham that there was no agenda at the board of works meeting, I distinctly recall Mr. Toran reading from the posted agenda verbatim. So nice try eastdistended but again the truth speaks louder than your propaganda

S. LaDuke said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
S. LaDuke said...

Add to all of this the information from the article in this mornings Courier Journal and you will see that the Rumpkie bid wasn't even close to the low bid.

Clark-Floyd Landfill LLC - $ 12.90 per household
ID - $ 11.56 per household
Rumpke of Indiana LLC - $ 17.63
The Union's Proposal - $ 16.75 per household

There is still alot of work to be done before anything is decided but those are the numbers.

Steve LaDuke

The New Albanian said...

Thanks for the numbers, Steve.

Brandon W. Smith said...

Over on Diggin' in the Dirt Ann wrote:

In this writer's humble opinion, any group that forms an allegiance to any elected official or his/her appointees has defeated the group's ability to be objective. Private citizens would be better served if they all behaved more like watchdogs and less like cheerleaders.

She's on to something there, although I think she mistakenly conflates Volunteer Hoosier's support for the Mayor with the larger, less vocal group of people working for progressive change on a variety of fronts.

Ann said...

I don't mind at all being mistaken, and don't mind admitting when I am, so I hope Brandon's assessment is accurate.

S. LaDuke said...

Oh, by the way...

I'm not the Board of Works President. That would be Mr. Tony Toran.

Wouldn't want to get any other rumors started!


Steve LaDuke

The New Albanian said...

Ooops -- not sure where that one came from. Perhaps, as it is "documented" elsewhere that I consume too much of my product, I erred after a beer break.

Brandon W. Smith said...

This may be a little late to post this, but I didn't mean to suggest that VH is some kind of mouthpiece for the Mayor or that I disagree with what he writes, just that linking progressive action in this town solely with the blogs or allegiance to the Mayor is bogus. It's much broader than that.